Dutchess County divorce clients often start out a consultation wanting sole custody and control of the visitation schedule. This is a common misconception of the term and what it means. There are essentially two types of custodial arrangements in a New York divorce, not to be confused with parental access schedules or visitation. They are Joint Custody and Sole Custody. The difference between the two is who will be making the major decisions for the child or children. In a sole custodial arrangement the parent who has sole custody will have the right to make all decisions relating to health, religion and education that relate to the children. In a joint custodial arrangement both parents work together to make the decisions in this area.
Parental visitation schedules in Dutchess County divorce are as varied as the lives of different parents. They can be alternating weekends, one weekend a month, equal time often called shared custody (not to be confused with either joint or sole) and any other combination of access times the parties can work out in the best interest of their children and family. The parent of a sole custody order does not get the right to alter a court ordered parental access or visitation schedule in Dutchess County divorce.
Physical custody and shared custody are also terms you will often hear in a Dutchess County divorce. Neither are a joint or sole custody order but rather are terms which relate to the time each parent has with the child or children. The Physical Custodial parent in a New York divorce is the parent who has the child or children more than 50% of the time and will be entitled to child support. A shared custodial arrangement is where each parent has the children 50% of the time. Even in a shared custodial arrangement one parent will be labeled the physical custodial parent for the purpose of child support, with the other being able to possibly seek a reduction in their child support obligation called by the Courts a “deviation”
Custody is complex and emotions are often high in Dutchess County divorce. A poorly written or understood order can lead to loss of trust between the parents, fights and never benefits the children. Please contact MacKay, and Berube for a free consultation and more detailed analysis of your custodial issue.