New York Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents

A small child holding hands with two adults, walking together as a family on a sunlit road.

Here is a breakdown of the child custody laws for both mothers, fathers, and guardians: If you are unmarried and the child resides in the State of New York, you may petition the Family Court in the County where your or the child resides. An Order of Custody gives responsibility for a child’s care to one or more parents or some eligible third party, such as a grandparent or relative. There are two aspects to custody: (1) legal custody, sometimes referred to as “decision-making” custody, and (2) residential or physical custody.

A New York State Family Law Court can only determine a child’s custody until the age of 18. Generally, regarding New York custody laws for unmarried parents, if a custody dispute exists, meaning there is a disagreement about which parents shall have legal and residential custody, the Court will appoint an Attorney for the Child to represent your child’s interests. As the child gets older, his wishes will come into play more and more in the Court’s determination. However, the ultimate decision lies with the Court and is based upon what is best for the child or in the “best interests of the child.”

What is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody of a Child?

Whoever has legal custody can make important decisions about a child’s care, such as medical care or religious upbringing. If the Judge gives joint legal custody, the parents make major decisions about the child together. It doesn’t matter which parent the child lives with; both parents must agree on the decisions together. If the Judge gives one parent sole legal custody, only one parent can make significant decisions for the child.

Whoever has physical or residential custody is responsible for a child’s physical care and supervision. If the Judge gives joint physical custody, the child lives with each parent for an equal amount of time. If the Judge gives sole physical custody, the child lives with this adult more than 50% of the time. This person is the custodial party, and the noncustodial party will have visitation.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a dedicated legal team specializing in family law, like Barrows Levy PLLC, today.

Contact Us Today!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.