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The Ins and Outs of Custody Agreements

While divorce ends a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily end the family. Even though ex-spouses may be ready to build new lives apart from each other, they may continue to maintain a shared relationship with their children. This relationship is expressed legally in both rights and responsibilities. In general, both parents have custodial rights and financial responsibilities for their children.

A custody agreement can help protect the custody rights of the estranged parents and ensure that both parents live up to their responsibilities to support their children. The custody agreement often recognizes the obligations of both parents to support their children and will detail how and under what circumstances each parent must contribute to the financial support of each child.

While there is no one-size-fits-all custody agreement, almost all New York custody agreements deal with both child custody and child support.

Child custody can be either legal or physical:

  • Legal custody is the legal right to make decisions about the children. This includes important decisions in areas such as education, physical and mental health care and religion. New York courts strongly prefer to grant legal custody to both parents, though in some exceptional cases, they grant sole legal custody to only one parent.
  • Physical custody relates to where the child actually resides. Again, the courts prefer that parents share physical custody. This usually means that the child lives primarily with one parent, with time for visitation during the week, on weekends and/or on holidays with the other parent.

There are many additional issues that can be dealt with in a custody agreement, such as the role of grandparents and matters relating to taxes and health care. Generally, a well thought-out custody agreement helps guide parents through the challenges of post-divorce child-rearing.

Over the years, I have helped countless clients in the crafting of custody agreements that have helped pave the way for a successful post-divorce future. If you are contemplating divorce, contact a NY divorce lawyer at our office for a consultation.

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