One of the most contentious issues when a couple in New York ends a relationship is who will have custody of the children. Before anything else it is critical to know the basics of child custody and that includes the two different possibilities. There are two areas of custody that should be understood: legal custody and physical custody. When trying to determine where the child will live and what the agreement will say, knowing the difference between the two is crucial.

The parent who has legal custody will be allowed to make all the important decisions regarding the care of the child. That can include religious observance, medical care and more. Should there be a decision that the parents will have joint legal custody, these decisions will be made together. The living arrangements are irrelevant in such a case – the parents will decide together. Should a parent be given sole custody, then that parent will make the decisions.

Physical custody is also referred to as residential custody. With it, the parent who has the child at the time and is giving physical care and supervising the child will be responsible for the decisions. When there is joint physical custody, the child will reside with each parent for an equal duration. When a judge gives sole physical custody, the child will reside with that parent for more than half the time with the custodial parent, with the other parent being allowed visitation with the child.

Whether the parents are friendly or not, it is imperative to understand the different levels of custody that can be awarded. The needs of the child are the priority, but in the middle of a dispute, parents might forget that. A law firm with experience in custody and visitation matters can try to help with the case from the beginning and assist the parents as they seek an agreeable and acceptable resolution.