If you have children, it is essential to understand that the more conflict in your divorce, the more damaging it can be to them. That does not mean that you should never pursue divorce litigation. Sometimes it is the only way to get a fair outcome. Yet, if you can find a way to negotiate rather than litigate, your child will benefit from it.
One area many parents end up fighting over is child custody. Understanding how New York courts view custody can help you set realistic goals and avoid unnecessary arguments.
A court will award legal custody and physical custody
New York sets out two types of custody — legal and physical. The chance of your spouse “winning custody” and barring you from your child’s life is slim, yet that is what many people fear. Rather than winning, or losing, think about sharing. It comes with a lot of benefits for you and your children.
Courts usually award joint legal custody. It means both parents share legal responsibility for their child until the child turns 18. They both get a say in decisions, such as which doctor treats the child and which school the child attends.
Courts can award physical custody to one parent — meaning that the child lives with them and the other parent gets visiting rights. Yet, research shows that kids are better off when they spend a reasonable amount of time with each parent. Thus judges often prefer to award some kind of joint physical custody.
Remember that the judge has probably never met you before. It is your life at stake, and you and your spouse understand the intricacies of your family better than anyone. If you can find a way to discuss things and reach an agreement, you each retain more of a say in the outcome of your divorce.