New York child custody: What is legal custody?

When one thinks about child custody, one often considers the physical time one will have with his or her children. Child custody matters go beyond determining which parent with whom a child might live, though. Some parents will want the ability to make important decisions concerning their children, even if physical custody is not granted. For this purpose, parents in New York or elsewhere can seek what is known as legal custody of their children.

If a parent is granted legal custody, this means that he or she will have the right to make major decisions for his or her child. These include decisions regarding how a child is to be raised and about other aspects of a child's welfare -- such as medical care, religious affiliation, dental treatment and educational matters. Legal custody is often granted to both parents, regardless of how physical custody is determined.

Joint legal custody can take a lot of work on the parents' parts. It requires good communication skills and the ability to negotiate when necessary. However, there are cases when sole legal custody is awarded to one parent. When sole legal custody is granted, this typically means that the other parent has been deemed unfit and has absolutely no say in how a child is raised or any other major decisions. This is may be granted in cases of domestic violence or if addiction or substance abuse is an issue.

Having the ability to make major life decisions for one's child is something that just about every parent desires. Legal custody allows parents to remain active participants in the lives of their children, even if their physical time is cut short. Those in New York that would like to seek this type of child custody can do so with the assistance of legal counsel.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Custody", Accessed on March 30, 2016

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