Custody is decided based on the best interests of the child. In New York, neither parent is favored more than the other in awarding custody. In deciding what is in the best interests of the child, the court will look to several of the factors listed below.
- The parenting skills of both the parents
- Whether one of the parents has been the main care giver of the child
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- Whether there is any history of domestic abuse
- The work schedules of each parent and any child care or parenting plans
- The child’s relationship with siblings and members of the family
- The parents’ capability to work with one another and ability to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent
There is such thing as “legal custody” and “physical custody” in New York. Legal custody refers to which parent will be responsible for making important decisions about the child. These are decisions such as education, religion, and medical care. Physical custody refers to which parent the child will physically reside with. These custody awards can be held jointly by both parents, or solely by one parent. Typically, courts in New York will give custody to one parent if it appears the parents are not able to cooperate with one another at all. A lot of cooperation and communication are needed for joint legal custody in New York.
Custody and visitation can be changed only when there is a substantial change of circumstances that affects the child’s best interests. Minor changes will not support a change in a custody order. Examples of substantial circumstances include poor parenting, relocation of the custodial parent, remarriage, or any abuse.
In order for New York courts to make a custody order over your child, your child must have lived in New York for the past six months. Otherwise, you will have to file for custody in the state where your child has most currently resided for six months. For instance, if you and your child have lived in New York for only four months, you will have to wait another two months before you can file for custody in New York.