In New York State, every divorced couple has a different custody agreement based on their own unique set of circumstances. Even if the parents are not or have never been married, there will generally be a custody agreement. In custody agreements, the following issues need to be addressed.
- Legal custody—When a parent has legal custody of a child, they are entitled to access to all records concerning the health, education and welfare of that child. Generally, parents have joint legal custody, unless one parent is abusive or intimidates the child or the other spouse.
- Physical custody—There are several different arrangements that parents use in their custody agreements. For example, one parent may have primary physical custody of a child (where a child lives a majority of the time with one parent) or there may be joint physical custody (where a child lives a similar amount of time with both parents).
- Decision-making—This custody issue addresses which parent makes final decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child. For example, in some agreements, the parties have joint decision-making custody, where neither party has a superior right to make a decision. In other cases, one parent has final decision-making authority, with the other parent having meaningful consultation.
- Access—This is the schedule of a parent’s regular access to the child on a weekly basis, but it also includes a holidays and vacation schedule.