The Difference Between Joint and Sole Custody


The Difference Between Joint and Sole Custody 

Being involved in custody mediation or a litigated custody dispute can be an overwhelming and confusing process.  There are many questions that you will consider as you prepare to discuss the terms of your parenting in the future.  One of the most common questions regards the types of custody arrangements that are common in New York.

There are two primary types of custody in New York: physical and legal.  Within those, there can also be joint or sole custody arrangements that outline the responsibilities and guidelines for parents.  Physical custody refers to where the children live on a regular basis.  Under a joint physical custody arrangement, the goal is to maximize the time that each child gets with his or her parents.  This is the ideal situation if the parents are able to be cordial with one another and cooperate with the terms of the agreement.  Sole physical custody, on the other hand, means that one parent serves as the primary guardian while the other parent has visitation time with the children. 

Legal custody refers to the opportunity to make important decisions regarding the children’s housing, religion, schooling, and medical care.  Just like physical custody, it’s possible to have joint or sole legal custody and this determines what role each parent plays in making these critical decisions.  In a joint legal custody arrangement, both parents have the opportunity to make decisions, and they must cooperate in order for this to be successful.  In a sole legal custody arrangement, one parent will take responsibility for making these important decisions, and this typically falls to the parent who made the most day-to-day decisions while the marriage was still intact. 

There are many ways to address specific New York custody arrangements. A dedicated New York family law attorneycan help you explore each of these options.  


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