How is Child Custody Determined in New York?

A joyful father with a toddler on his shoulders and a young child by his side, sharing a happy moment outdoors by a white picket fence, reminiscent of the diverse families represented by Nassau County LGBTQ

If you are going through a custody battle, it is understandable that you will want to learn the ins and outs of the process. Continue reading to discover how child custody is determined in New York. Reach out to our experienced child custody attorney who will walk you through the legal process ahead. You do not need to go through this process alone. We are here to help.

Types of Custody in New York

Physical custody and legal custody are the two main types of custody in New York.

Physical custody is awarded to the parent the child spends the majority of their time with. This will establish the child’s main residence. The parent with physical custody may be awarded child support. In some cases, parents may split the custody equally which would be considered shared physical custody.

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important life decisions on the child’s behalf. Some of these decisions may include having a say in the medical treatments the child will receive, what religion they practice, and where they go to get an education.

Legal custody is not dependent on physical custody and can be awarded to one or both parents.

In instances where one parent proves that they are unfit to be a parent in any way, New York courts may grant the other parent sole custody of the child.

What do New York courts consider when determining child custody?

Child custody decisions are often determined in the court in New York. The court will examine the following factors when determining custody:

  • The safety of the child
  • The child’s needs
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The physical and mental health of each parent
  • The stability of the home environment
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities and lifestyles
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any history of drug abuse
  • Any history of alcohol abuse
  • The preference of the child, if of sufficient age
  • The relationship of the child with their parents
  • The relationship of the child with their siblings

If you have any further questions regarding determining custody in New York, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced child custody attorney who will advocate for you and your family.


Barrows Levy PLLC is a highly experienced New York law firm focused on providing quality legal services to clients in New York City and Long Island. If you need a Nassau County lawyer who has significant experience handling family and estate planning matters, we are ready to help. Contact Barrows Levy PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 

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