Legal and Physical Child Custody in Albany
Determining who retains custody of a child after a divorce is usually not a quick and easy process. Nor does “custody” always refer to the same thing. The two main realms of child custody in Albany are that of legal and physical custody. They serve separate functions and need to be agreed-upon by both parents or ordered by a judge. A dependable child custody attorney could help you set up a plan between you and your former partner that works in the best interest of the child.
What is the Definition of Legal Custody?
Legal custody refers to a parent having decision-making powers for a child, including their education, religion, and health-related decisions. Parents with legal custody have the power to decide which vaccinations the child gets, whether the child will have an elective medical procedure or participate in therapy, as well as the decision to put them in public or private school. Once a child turns 18, the law in Albany no longer requires them to have a legal custodian.
Factors That Determine Legal Custody
The baseline that judges hold in most child custody cases is that parents should share joint legal custody. However, if there are concerns regarding mental competency, drug or alcohol abuse, an order of protection that does not allow a parent to communicate with the other spouse, or if they are unavailable due to incarceration, those are all factors that would impact someone’s ability to have joint legal custody. A lawyer could help someone determine if the other party has a concerning factor that requires custody limitations.
Generally, legal custody does not impact visitation rights and it does not impact physical custody for the other parent.
What is the Definition of Physical Custody?
Physical custody refers to where the child physically resides. It can be held by one parent or both jointly, which may require the child to be transported between the two homes on a regular basis. This can affect which school district the child attends, as well as which parent can file a childcare dependency tax exemption pursuant to federal guidelines.
If there is a primary physical custody designation, that means that the visitation rights of the other parent are less than what it would be if they held joint custody. The gap between the two could range from three days a week to just a few hours a week.
The Importance of Discussing Custody Type Before a Hearing
It is important for a lawyer to discuss whether a divorcing spouse in Albany wishes to have legal or physical custody of their child before they begin the court process. The first order that the court may make will be the temporary order of custody while the case is being negotiated. It is important for a parent to set the stage by showing that they have discussed the situation with their lawyer and are looking out for the best interest of their child. They also do not want to be faced with a temporary order that negatively impacts their right to see their child while negotiations are ongoing.
If a parent begins the process without a legal representative, and the judge issues a restrictive temporary order, that person might be stuck in that position until their next appearance, if not later. Discussing the custody situation ahead of time can help prevent these issues from occurring.
Learn the Differences Between Legal and Physical Child Custody from an Attorney
There are many considerations that go into determining a child’s lifestyle after their parents separate. When it comes to child custody in Albany, legal and physical custody are important decisions that should be made with extreme care. Work with a lawyer who can explain what the limitations are for each type and fight for a fair result. Call now to discuss the specifics of your situation.