Child custody lawyers know that this topic can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Parents can come to an agreement over the division of assets, but might find themselves at loggerheads when it comes to determining who gets primary custody of the child, and how visitation will be set.

In any child custody situation, one of several things can happen. In New York, a court may decide to grant physical custody and legal tutelage of the parent either to the parents jointly, or to only one parent. Physical custody refers to living arrangements of the child, his care, and other aspects of his well-being. Legal custody however, refers to the decision-making authority and responsibility of the child’s welfare.

Legal tutelage may either be awarded to one person only in a sole tutelage arrangement, or the court will determine that the custody must be shared between the parents. When you share legal tutelage in a joint legal custody arrangement, the parents may jointly make decisions about child.

These decisions affect the child’s education, the kind of school that he may enroll in, the kind of religious education or training that the child will receive, healthcare and medical decisions related to the child, and other decisions. In this kind of arrangement, the parents discuss with each other and come to a mutual agreement. Talk to a Westchester County family lawyer to learn whether this kind of arrangement would suit your family.

Obviously, a joint tutelage arrangement is only suitable in those situations in which the divorce has been amicable, and the parents have a cordial relationship with each other. A joint legal custody demands that parents frequently communicate with each other, and are ready to put their needs aside in order to make decisions that are best for their children. The court will always prefer to make joint tutelage arrangements if it is in the best interest of the child.

In other situations, one of you may retain sole custody of the child, while the other gets visitation rights. It’s best if you can make these decisions between the two of you, without involving the courts.

However, if you should choose a sole tutelage arrangement, you will have to set visitation schedules. In a sole custody arrangement, there may be custodial parent, who has tutelage of the child for most of the time, and a noncustodial parent who may have visitation rights. Visitation in some courts in New York is also referred to as access.

Remember, that if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement about child tutelage, the court will appoint a person as an attorney for the child who will inform the court of the child’s wishes. When the divorce is in progress, your Westchester County child custody lawyer will ask the court to issue a temporary child custody order which will be in place until the divorce is finalized. To understand whether a joint tutelage  arrangement would suit your situation best, speak to our Westchester County child custody attorneys.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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