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What are my chances of getting sole legal custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Child Custody & Parenting Time

New York law recognizes two types of child custody: legal and physical. Physical custody is also referred to as parenting time.

Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions for the child, while physical custody involves who the child lives with and when.

It is common for parents to argue over physical custody, but sometimes the arguments are over legal custody. You may be comfortable with your child spending time with your co-parent but you might not trust your co-parent to make responsible decisions for your child.

Major decisions

Major decisions for purposes of legal custody include decisions on topics such as education, religion and healthcare. They do not include everyday decisions such as what time a child eats dinner or goes to bed.

While it can be difficult to relinquish some control over making major decisions for your child to your co-parent, New York courts generally award joint legal custody.

Joint legal custody

Joint legal custody means you and your co-parent both have equal decision-making power. If you disagree on a major decision, the decision cannot be made until a court decides.

This might sound like a nightmare, especially if you do not see you and your co-parent agreeing on anything. However, this is usually not a strong enough argument to justify sole legal custody.

In many cases, with time and a genuine effort to co-parent, many parents find themselves getting better at communicating and making decisions together. Joint legal custody often ends up working.

Sole legal custody

That does not mean that sole legal custody is never awarded. Direct evidence of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse or a long-term absence from the child’s life could result in one parent receiving sole legal custody.

If these factors are present in your situation, you must do more than allege them. You must prove them. For example, if your co-parent has a drug addiction, you must provide evidence, such as a recent failed drug test.

Knowing your likelihood of receiving sole legal custody before fighting for it is crucial. It is important to have a realistic outlook on your chances.