A child custody order is the legal order that provides the framework for the child’s relationship with both of his or her parents after their divorce. The terms and processes used in child custody orders vary from state to state. In New York, custody is divided into two categories: legal custody, the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf regarding his or her medical care and other substantial aspects of his or her lifestyle and well being, and physical custody, the right to spend time with the child face-to-face.
Parents can share both types of custody, one parent can have one type solely and share the other type with the other parent, or one parent can solely hold both types of custody. The court considers various factors to determine which of these arrangements is in the child’s best interest.
Developing a Child Custody Order in New York
The court has to carefully consider all of a child’s needs and the environmental factors he or she faces to develop a custody order for him or her. In every state, the court follows a standard known as “the child’s best interest,” which basically means the best case scenario for the child after his or her parents’ divorce.
Factors the court considers to create this best case scenario include:
- Which parent has more day-to-day involvement in the child’s life, which can mean helping with homework, arranging doctor appointments and administering medical care, providing meals for the child, and communicating with parties such as the child’s teacher and caregivers;
- Each parent’s work schedule and child care plan;
- Both parents’ willingness to cooperate with an established court order;
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence in either parent’s household;
- If the child is old enough to articulate a well-reasoned preference, the child’s desire; and
- Both parents’ mental and physical health.