Discussions of child custody arrangements in divorce proceedings often involve decisions over legal and physical custody. One or both parents may then have sole or joint physical custody, as well as sole or joint legal custody. Any inquiry of whether both parents can have primary custody is incomplete without first understanding this terminology.
Child custody lawyers Rockland County
The family law attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman believe that the sometimes-confusing terminology used by family law courts to address child custody issues should not add to the stress of divorce proceedings. Accordingly, we strive to cut through the confusion when we counsel our clients on the details of custody arrangements.
Physical custody is distinct from legal custody
Physical custody refers to where a child will live when a divorce is finalized. If the child spends a majority of his or her time with one parent, that parent is deemed to have primary physical custody. On the other hand, legal custody refers to how the parents will make decisions with respect to the child’s upbringing. Those decisions can include matters such as where the child will attend school, what religious traditions he or she will follow, and the type of medical services that he or she will receive.
Physical custody may be sole, primary, or joint
When a child spends most or all of his or her time with one parent, that parent will be deemed to have sole or primary physical custody of the child. If the child divides his or her time between both parents, those parents have joint physical custody. Child custody arrangements in divorce proceedings will often designate the amount of time that each parent will have with the children. Because those times are specific to each divorce situation, there is no bright dividing line between what might be considered primary physical custody versus joint physical custody. From a physical custody perspective, it is unlikely that both parents will be deemed to be primary physical custodians.
Legal custody is more likely to be only sole, or joint
If both of the divorcing parents can verify that they are capable of making joint decisions for their children without any acrimony, they may well have joint legal custody of the children. In this case, it may be valid to characterize the arrangement as one in which both parents have primary legal custody, even if only one parent has primary physical custody. If the parents have sharp and irreconcilable differences regarding critical decisions on the child’s upbringing, a family law court will be more likely to award sole legal custody to only one of the parents.
In all cases, the child’s interests are of paramount importance
Verification and approval of all physical and legal custody decisions will always be a function of the custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. If the divorcing parents are unable to agree or the court senses a high degree of discord between the parents, it may appoint separate independent legal counsel, known as a guardian ad litem, to represent the child’s interests. The guardian’s report will then help the court to decide the most appropriate physical and legal custody arrangements for a child.
Contact custody lawyers Rockland County trusts
Parents who are going through a divorce will inevitably want to ease the difficulty of that process for their children. They can accomplish this goal by making intelligent and well-informed physical and legal child custody arrangements.
Choose custody lawyers Bergen County NJ relies on. The divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman provide sensitive and professional legal counsel for marriage partners in Rockland County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey who desire to make the best decisions for their children when those individuals are in divorce proceedings. Whether you are only beginning to contemplate a divorce or you have already decided to begin a divorce proceeding, we can provide the private and confidential legal counsel that you need to make the right decisions both for yourself and for your children. Please call our New York or New jersey offices to schedule a consultation today with child custody lawyers Bergen County NJ residents have relied on for decades to represent their rights.
- divorcenet.com: Differences Between Legal and Physical Child Custody. https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/divorce-and-children/legal-and-physical-custody-children
- verywellfamily.com: Understanding Joint Legal Custody. https://www.verywellfamily.com/overview-of-joint-legal-custody-2997666