How is Child Custody Determined in New York? | What to Know

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Divorce can be a stressful process. This is true for all members of the family. Child custody is one of the most important factors to determine during a divorce. Read on to learn more about the different types of custody and how a New York court goes about determining custody.

What are the Different Types of Custody?

In New York, there are two main types of child custody that may be awarded: physical and legal.

Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child spends more nights of the week. In some cases, parents share physical custody equally.

Legal custody refers to a parent’s legal right to make decisions about important matters in the lives of their children. This may refer to choices about the child’s religion, education, medical treatments, and so on. This can be awarded to both parents, regardless of physical custody.

In some rare cases, a parent may be deemed unfit and the fit parent will be awarded sole custody. This does not happen often because New York courts strongly believe that a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. But, a parent may be deemed unfit in a case of substance abuse, domestic violence, neglect, etc.

How is Custody Determined?

Child custody is not a decision to be taken lightly. When making a decision about custody, a New York court will take some of the following factors into account:

  • The parents’ ability to communicate, cooperate and agree regarding matters of the child
  • The parent’s willingness to accept custody and any unwillingness to allow parenting time
  • The relationship of the child with their parents and siblings
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The safety of the child and the safety of one parent from another
  • The preference of the child when of sufficient age
  • The child’s needs
  • The stability of the home environment
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of both parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities

It is important to note that once a custody arrangement has been created and enforced, it can be difficult to change.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding child custody in New York, contact our firm today. We are here to walk you through the process every step of the way.


Matters of divorce and family law should be navigated with the guidance of an experienced attorney. If you need strong legal representation regarding matters of divorce, family law, and estate law, contact the Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. to schedule a consultation today.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I hired Susan to represent me in a divorce matter where I was fighting for custody and to limit my wife's equitable share of our assets. I won custody of our son, kept the marital residence, kept my professional practice, kept my building and paid less than half to my wife. This was after a long-term marriage. She could persuade the court that equitable is not equal and sometimes the man does deserve to win!

‐ Dave

I first must say that I had been represented by two prior attorneys both of whom had simply taken my money and left me nothing to show for it in my custody case. They kept telling me what they were doing for me but I found out they were lying. Susan on the other hand had gotten me temporary custody and support for my children and myself within two months of hiring her. I cannot say enough about her.

‐ Craig

After talking to a few other attorneys, I hired Susan to represent me in my divorce and custody dispute. I was reluctant to go with her because she was the cheapest out of all the other attorneys I met with, but I'm so glad I did. I am 100% positive no one else would have done such a great job with my case as Susan and her staff. Her work is quality, her staff is reliable and her character is honorable. There...

‐ Linda

I had a very difficult case where I had already burned through two attorneys who were unable to get me custody of my children and complete my divorce. Susan was able to rapidly work out an agreement and not let it just malinger on like my previous experiences. She was also considerate of my financial situation unlike all of the other lawyers I had spoken to. I highly recommend her if you want complete and caring service with an in-depth knowledge of...

‐ Joanne


The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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