Custody-Legal vs Custodial

I want custody of my child...what do I need to know?

There are two components to custody: legal custody, and residential custody.

Legal custody means that as the parent, you are able to make the decisions for the child; this means that you are entitled to make major decisions regarding the health, education, religion, and general well-being of your child. Will my child be raised Catholic? Will my child take ADHD medication? (One more question) These decisions can be made jointly by both parents if the two of you agree, otherwise known as joint legal custody. If there are disagreements, you are entitled to sue for sole legal custody, meaning that you are the only parent making the call on what is right for your child.

Finally, according to NY State Law, custody can be decided as joint custody with final decision making to one party; this means that both parents can discuss the options together, but one person, the parent with final decision, ultimately chooses what to do for the child. The parent with final decision-making ability acts on what he/she thinks is best, regardless of whether or not the other parent disagrees.

In regards to residential or physical custody, you are the custodial parent when the child lives with you. In New York State, there must be a primary residential parent for school and child support purposes, so it is impossible to have joint residential custody. It is possible, however, to have a shared custody agreement, in which the child sees his/her non-custodial parent on a regular basis. However, even if you truly map out the time to be split 50/50 between the two parents, the parent who earns less money is the residential parent for child support purposes.

Here is a helpful article breaking down the differences:

Still confused? Contact our office at 914-948-0945, or email [email protected] or [email protected]