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Child Custody in New York

Familiarize Yourself With Child Custody Laws in the State of New York


Boy (4-5 years) kissing mother, smiling, close up
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A New York family court considers several factors when determining child custody. Parents who wish to file for child custody in New York should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.

Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with child custody in New York.

Sole Custody v. Joint Custody

A New York court favors a joint custody arrangement where parents will share physical and legal custody of the child. The court deems joint custody to be in the best interests of the child. However, if the court believes that a child will be in harm, in its own discretion, a court will grant sole custody to one parent. Generally, all parents will have the right to visitation with a child, even if custody is not granted.

Third Party Custody in New York

A New York court will grant custody to a third party (a grandparent, aunt, sibling, etc.), if it determines that awarding custody to a parent is not in the best interest of the child.

Factors Used to Determine Child Custody in New York

A New York family court will consider the following factors when making a custody determination:

  • Best interests of the child
  • The child's wishes, if the child is of an age where he/she can express his/her desire (generally 12 years of age or older)
  • Which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child
  • History of domestic violence
  • Work schedules of both parents
  • The child's relationship with parents, siblings, and extended family
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Each parent's ability to foster and encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Parenting skills of both parents and their ability to provide for a child with special needs, if applicable

Visitation and Child Custody in New York

A New York court may order the following kinds of visitation to a parent:

  • Supervised Visitation - The court will choose someone to supervise the visits between the child and the parent, if it determines that the child might be in danger if he/she is left alone with the parent
  • Therapeutic Supervised Visitation - A mental health professional will supervise the visits between the parent and child and try to improve the bond between the parent and child during the visits
  • Neutral Place of Exchange - A safe environment where one parent can drop the child off for visits with the other parent (i.e. a library, police station or school).
  • Monitored Transition - A third party is present when one parent drops the child off to the other parent, to ensure the parents' safety and a calm environment for the child.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in New York

Even if the domestic violence was not committed against the child or when the child was present, a New York court will still consider domestic violence as a factor in child custody proceedings.

For more information about child custody in New York, please visit the New York Courts page or speak with a qualified New York attorney.

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