Child Custody in NY: An Overview


The state law in New York State recognizes two types of child custody. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions in the life of a child. Decisions considered to be of a legal nature might be those which involve where a child will attend school, the religious training a child will receive and the type of health care provided. Physical custody is purely used to establish where the child will live.

Custody can be either joint, in which both parents share the legal and physical custodial responsibilities of their child or children; or it can be sole, in which one parent is awarded full responsibility for the child or children of the divorcing couple. No matter what type of custody you have in mind for life after your divorce, a New York City family lawyer will play an integral role in the enforcement and modification of whatever is established.


The NYC family court’s top concern is the welfare and best interests of the child, and this priority heavily influences their decision about which parent will have custody. The court will thoroughly assess the lives and abilities of both parents to ensure the child is placed into the best possible situation. Some of the main factors the court will take into consideration are:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s mental and physical health
  • The child’s current education situation
  • The child’s daily pattern
  • Which parent is the primary caregiver
  • The lifestyles and schedules of each parent
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable and loving home
  • The financial situations of both parents
  • Each parent’s willingness to allow the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent
  • The impact either potential situation could have upon the child
  • Whether or not there is a history of domestic violence
  • The preference of the child, depending upon their age


A parent’s relationship with his or her child is a valuable thing and it should be protected, especially during a divorce. At the Law Offices of Andrew J. Spinnell, LLC, our team of divorce professionals works to protect the current relationships that our clients have with their children. As members of our own families, we understand how urgent it can feel to ensure that you know where your loved ones will reside after the dissolution of your marriage. Therefore, we work tirelessly to effectively represent all issues of child custody, from visitation to relocation and more.

At our Midtown Manhattan law office, we offer candid legal advice to clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City. When someone contacts us for help, we make sure to provide them with the most personal care available, sitting down and talking to them about the goals they wish to be accomplished by acquiring our services. Working closely with you, we come up with a legal strategy to achieve what you feel will be best for you and your family — a plan that best represents the children and parents of any separating family. If you would like to learn how we can assist you in your custody dispute, contact a Manhattan child custody attorney from our firm today!