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Child Custody:  Sole, Joint, Legal, Residential, Shared, Split…. What does it all mean?

child custody and child support lawyer long island nyAs a child custody lawyer on Long Island, NY, I am often asked the difference between the different types of child custody in Nassau County and Suffolk County, where most of my clients reside. Child custody laws are universal throughout New York State so the discussion below applies throughout the state.

First of all, there are two main aspects to child custody: Residential Custody and Legal Custody. 

Residential Custody

Residential Custody refers to which parent the child lives with more of the time. This parent is often referred to as the “residential” or “custodial” parent. This is an important distinction for a couple of reasons:

  1. The residential parent usually (but not always) receives child support from the noncustodial parent.
  2. If the parents reside in different school districts, the child(ren) will attend school (referring to public school) in the school district in which the residential parent resides.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody refers to the right to make decisions on behalf of the child(ren). This generally refers to the right make major decision pertaining to the child(ren)’s health, education or general welfare. When you hear that a parent has “sole” custody, this means that the parent is the residential parent, and, has the singular right to make major decisions for the child(ren) despite protest from the noncustodial parent. Joint custody means that both parents have to be involved in and agree upon all major decisions for the children.

Shared Custody

Shared Custody is similar to joint custody in the decision making aspect, however, parents who agree to “share” custody do not designate a custodial parent. Instead, the parents agree to share the child(ren) as equally as possible.  Under “shared” custody, there is still a child support obligation, however, it is paid from the parent who earns more money to the parent who earns less money.

Split Custody

Split Custody refers to families with more than one child where at least one or more of the children reside with each parent.

Child Custody and Child Support

Child custody and child support arrangements for every divorcing couple is unique and needs to account for your individual family’s needs. For a free private consultation about your family’s needs, contact the experienced attorneys at Robert E. Hornberger, PC at 631-923-1910 or fill out the form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.