Law Office of Jeffrey W. Johnson
Law Office of Jeffrey W. Johnson
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    Staten Island, NY 10301
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While the number of possible arrangements is almost infinite, there are basically two types of custody in New York: custody, which some people call sole custody, and joint custody. Sole custody means that the custodial parent makes the important decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the child. They almost always have to keep the other parent advised of whatever decisions they’re making about this child, and the other parent will normally have access to all medical and educational records of the child, but the custodial parent does make the final decision.

Joint legal custody means that the parents have to share all major decisions about the child, just like parents who raise a child together. They’ll have to come to some kind of an agreement, and no one parent has the final decision-making right, which could cause a problem if the two parents can’t agree on a decision. There really is not much of a mechanism to go to court to have the court make a decision in that kind of case. What normally has to happen then is one parent must go to court to try to modify the joint custody to a sole custody type situation so that they can make that decision. I have seen many cases like that where one parent will file to modify joint custody to sole custody because they can’t agree on the decision with the other parent.

There’s also joint physical custody. (Some people get confused when they say joint custody because of the separation of legal and physical.) Joint physical custody basically means that the two parents have relatively equal time with the child; in other words, the child spends 50 percent of their time with each parent. That’s an overview of the many kinds of parenting time and custodial arrangements in New York.

Is There An Age Where A Child Has Input Regarding Who They Will Live With?

While the children have input at every age to express their wishes, it’s different at different ages. When a child is six years old or younger, a law guardian or an attorney for the child will advocate for what they think is in the child’s best interest. They’re not obliged to advocate for what the child wants. Once a child reaches the age of six, the law guardian is supposed to advocate for the child’s position as if they were a regular client.

There’s basically no formula for it, but the younger the child is, the less important will be what they want as far as custody; and the older they are, the more important. As they get closer to 18, which is the age when the court loses jurisdiction over custody in New York, their wants and desires will be more and more determinative because it’s very hard to make a 17-year-old stay in a situation they don’t want to be in. Between the ages of six and 17, it varies according to the particular case and the particular judge. Overall, though, as they get older, their wishes are counted more.

Can I Appeal A Final Custody Decision Or A Custody Order?

You can appeal a custody order the same as you could any other decision, though it might take years to get a decision on it. After a custody trial in Family Court or Supreme Court, you have 30 days to file an appeal in New York, which would then go to the Appellate Division. Appeals of custody are really not that common as the appeal process is long and expensive. What happens more often is that someone will come back to court after a trial or a hearing and try to modify the custody decision.

To modify a custody decision in New York, you generally have to show two things: there’s been a significant change of circumstances since the custody order was entered, and it would be in the child’s best interest to change custody.

If the parents have agreed on a custody situation, that cannot be appealed because it’s an agreement, though you can try to modify it. It can be harder to modify custody that was agreed on than the custody that was decided by a court. You might have to show very strong circumstances to modify an agreement. But it can be done.

For more information on Child Custody Matters in New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 557-9767 today.

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