New York judges usually favor a joint custody arrangement when deciding divorce cases. However, joint custody isn’t always the best choice.
If you are going through a divorce, you should consult a child custody attorney before making any final choices. Our New York child custody attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group, PLLC, can help you determine the best custody arrangement to suit your unique case.
Read on to learn the pros and cons of joint custody to help you decide if it’s a good option for your family.
Legal and Physical Custody: What You Should Know
It is essential to learn the difference between joint formal custody and joint physical custody.
- Joint legal custody: This is where both parents have an equal say in significant choices like where the child will go to school and other critical decisions about childcare.
- Joint physical custody: This means that a child will spend the same or almost equal amount of time living with both parents.
Courts usually decide about formal custody and physical custody in separate agreements. One parent can have physical custody while the other retains legal custody.
Benefits of Joint Custody Arrangements
There are various advantages to having both parents share custody after a divorce, which is why the courts in New York usually opt for such arrangements.
Below are some of the main advantages of joint custody:
Both Parents Maintain a Role in the Child’s Upbringing
In a joint physical custody arrangement, both parents spend equal time with their child. Conversely, joint legal custody means the parents work together to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing.
The Child Lives in a More Stable Environment
When the divorce process goes smoothly, the child benefits from a more stable, peaceful living environment because of the parents’ joint custody arrangement.
The Parents Share Responsibility More Equally
Joint custody simplifies life for everyone involved because it shares the child’s upbringing responsibilities and costs more fairly between the parents.
What Are the Cons of Joint Custody?
There are various disadvantages of joint custody arrangements. Some of the problems that can arise with joint custody arrangements include the following:
Planning and Scheduling Challenges
Transporting the child, arranging for pick-ups and drop-offs, and other similar decisions require more coordination when both parents have equal parenting time. This situation can be particularly trying for parents who have trouble communicating with one another.
Arguments and Conflicts
Arguments and conflicts are common during divorce. Joint custody can make things worse if the parents’ relationship is tense, to begin with. This is because each parent has an equal say in raising the child.
Putting children in the middle of an argument can be detrimental to the family unit.
Children Must Move Frequently
Children who split their time between their parents’ houses may find the transition challenging because of the emotional and logistical challenges caused by constantly packing and unpacking their belongings, such as schoolwork, sports equipment, and other personal effects.
Creating a Schedule for Parenting Time
Creating a schedule for parenting time with your partner is a significant first step if you want to pursue joint custody. The plan will specify how much time each parent will spend with the child, who will cover travel expenses, and how other decisions will be made about the child.
Other Custody Alternatives
If you and your ex-spouse do not have joint custody of your children, the judge will decide which of you will have primary legal and physical custody.
Alternatives to joint custody include sole custody and shared custody.
One parent may be awarded full legal custody by the court. This means that the parent with full legal custody has the final say on major life choices, like whether or not the child will undergo medical treatment, receive religious instruction, or be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports.
When parents have shared legal custody, they each have some autonomy over certain issues instead of making all household choices together. One parent may be given sole decision-making power over educational issues while the other parent handles all other issues.
The specifics of the custody arrangements can change based on the judge’s decision. The non-custodial parent continues to have visitation and parental rights, which often include overnight stays.
How Do New York Courts Decide Custody?
The courts usually consider the status quo and the existing arrangement’s efficiency when deciding on legal and physical custody. They may also consider the child’s desires, the parents’ living situations, and the parents’ financial and emotional resources when making this decision.
New York courts consider each parent’s history of caring for the kid and any instances of abuse. They may appoint an “Attorney of the Child” to interview the minor and determine their best interests.
Once legal and physical custody has been determined, changing the terms of the agreement or the judgment can be challenging. However, such agreements or decisions can be revised if there are material changes in the circumstances.
Child support payments may change based on the custody agreement. The parent with primary custody of the kid may be entitled to child support payments. Child support in New York is calculated according to a formula established by local custody laws.
When Does a Child Get to Choose Which Parent They Want to Live With?
The judge does not decide at what age the child’s wishes will be considered. There is no minimum age at which a court must begin taking a child’s wishes into account. However, the court will generally give greater weight to the child’s wishes as they grow older.
A New York court will examine many factors when deciding what is in a child’s best interest, and the child’s preferences are just one of them. The courts can’t determine the custody of a child who is over 18 years.
Consult a New York Divorce Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group have extensive experience mediating child custody agreements between disputing parents. Our compassionate team puts your child first to ensure a smooth divorce process.
Call us today at 914-303-8408 to schedule a confidential consultation.