In New York, custody can be determined in a number of ways:
- JOINT CUSTODY: In a joint custody situation, both parents have the legal authority to make major life decisions on behalf of their child concerning issues like religion, education or health care. Sometimes they agree to have "equal decision-making" which means they must reach agreement on all major decisions, or else the decision would be submitted to a mediator or Judge to decide. In other agreements, the primary custodial parent gets final decision-making after full consultation with the non-custodial parent. Joint Custody in New York is often reached via agreement but rarely imposed upon the parents by the Judge.
- SOLE CUSTODY: When a parent is given sole custody, the child will physically live with him or her, and he or she will have the ultimate authority to make everyday and major life decisions for the child.
- SHARED CUSTODY: When parents share custody, they generally split their access to the child 50/50. A shared custody situation is very rare.
- SPLIT CUSTODY: This is a situation in which at least 1 child lives with one parent, and at least 1 child lives with the other parent. Negotiating a custody plan can be complex. It is important to remember that the court ultimately looks at what is in the best interests of the child. For fathers, this means that if you and your child's mother separate, it is important to remain in the child's life as much as possible. Both parents -- custodial or noncustodial -- should keep as much physical evidence as possible that may strengthen their case.
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