Child Custody in New York

Whether you are going through a divorce, or you and your partner did not legally marry, emotions can run very high when there are children are involved and custody may become an important issue that must be determined. If the parties cannot agree as to where and with whom the children should live, and who should make their decisions, courts in New York determine custody in accordance with what is in the “best interests of the child.” Neither legal parent has a greater right than the other to custody, and either may have custody of the children absent a court order.

There are two components to child custody—physical and legal. Custody may also be shared between the parents.

Physical Custody

Also known as residential custody, physical custody refers to where and with whom the children primarily spend their time and live. The parent with physical custody is responsible for the children’s physical care and supervision. The parent with sole physical custody is known as the “custodial” parent. The "non-custodial" parent would have designated visitation, also known as parenting time. In certain cases, visitation may be supervised.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to which parent has the authority to make important decisions in the child’s life concerning medical care, education, and religious upbringing.

Joint Custody

Joint custody refers to a situation in which the parents share custody of the children. Physical or legal custody may be joint, or both. In cases involving physical joint custody, the children may share their schedule with both parents. When legal custody is joint, both parents make the important decisions about the child’s care and upbringing. One parent may be given final decision making authority in cases of joint legal custody.

If you are facing a child custody dispute in New York, or if you are seeking to have an existing order modified, it is important to speak with an attorney who can advise you of your rights and protect your legal interests. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to handle child custody matters throughout New York City’s five boroughs—Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island; Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Westchester County. Offices are conveniently located in Manhattan and Melville, Long Island for the convenience of clients. Consultations are by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling (646) 397-6844.

Manhattan: 11 Broadway, Suite 615, New York, NY 10004

(Midtown option also available)

Long Island: 445 Broad Hollow Road, Melville, New York 11747

Attorney Advertising. The content herein is not meant to be construed as legal advice, nor form an attorney-client relationship. Any photographs depicted herein are actor portrayals and do not depict actual clients.


Attorney Advertising.  The content contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor form an attorney-client relationship. (c) 2019 The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins, Jessica M. Semins, Esq.