Child Custody

Child Custody and Parenting Time in New York

The wellbeing of your child is one of the most important considerations in a divorce. Determining child custody and a parenting time schedule can be one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce process. Having a proven attorney protecting your parental rights and pursuing your child’s interests can make all the difference.

In New York City and Westchester, attorney Lisa Zeiderman has extensive experience resolving child custody and parenting time issues for divorcing or unmarried. She can answer your questions and help you achieve an outcome that lays the foundation for a better future for you and your children. 

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody

In New York State, child custody is comprised of two parts: legal custody and residential (physical) custody: 

  • Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make decisions about major issues affecting the child including education, medical and healthcare, therapeutic issues, and religion. 
  • Physical custody determines where the child will physically live and the access schedule for the non-custodial parent. 

Legal custody can be further broken down into sole legal custody and joint legal custody: 

  •  Sole legal custody is where one parent has the authority to make major life decisions. Sometimes consultation is required and, other times, the parent holding legal custody must inform the parent about the decision. 
  • Joint legal custody is where both parents contribute to major life decisions and jointly make such decisions. The parent with whom the child is residing is generally responsible for day-to-day decisions. 
In determining legal custody in a divorce case, the court will base their decision on the best interests of the child. 

How Is Legal Custody Decided?

Some of the factors considered when determining sole legal custody vs. joint legal custody include:

  • Which adult has been the primary caregiver
  • Work schedules
  • Parenting skills
  • Mental and physical health
  • The child’s preferences (if old enough)
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence or physical abuse
  • Which parent is most likely to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent
The last factor may actually be the most important determining factor. 

Parenting Time Schedules

When a child is under 18 years of age, the State of New York will determine parenting time for non-custodial parents, including the actual schedule if parents cannot reach an agreement on their own. Successfully navigating co-parenting requires effort, communication, and preparation; it does not happen by chance. 

One of the best ways to make sure your parental rights and the needs of your children are reflected by your parenting time schedule is to spend time thinking about what is most important to you, your children and family. Knowing what you hope to achieve in a parenting time schedule will position your attorney to build a successful strategy. Learn more about getting your parenting time schedule in writing, including important holidays and dates to keep in mind

Every parenting schedule should be unique to the child’s and the parents’ needs. Under certain circumstances, supervised or therapeutic visits may be appropriate to protect the emotional and/or physical well-being of the children. A parenting schedule can also include grandparent visitation. 

You may need to enforce a custody agreement or order if the other parent refuses to comply. Additionally, you may need to modify an agreement or order if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

As your family law attorney, Lisa Zeiderman can help you negotiate a fair and comprehensive settlement agreement that secures the best result for you and your children, and also saves time and money that would otherwise have been spent in litigation.

Relocation Issues

Under the laws of a New York custody arrangement, a custodial parent who decides to move a distance that will interfere with the non-custodial parent’s access to the child may only do so if the court determines the move to be in the child’s best interest or if the other parent is in agreement with the relocation.  

Visitation Issues

In the majority of divorce or separation cases, the court prefers that children retain contact with both parents. Therefore, whichever parent is not awarded residential or physical custody will have access to the child in accordance with a set visitation schedule, unless the parents mutually agree to deviate from the schedule. 

Speak to Lisa Zeiderman About Your Custody Needs

The first step in protecting your parental rights and safeguarding your children is discussing your situation with an experienced child custody lawyer. Call 914-488-2402 to schedule a consultation.

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