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Child Custody

New York
Child Custody Law

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What New York Residents Need To Know About How to Get Custody of a Child

Welcome to the fastest and easiest way to find out about child custody law in New York.

How to approach your child custody question depends on your personal circumstances. Most people find themselves wrestling with issues of parental responsibility at the time of a divorce from the child’s other parent. But child custody concerns arise in many other circumstances as well—for example, if a child’s parents never married or if a grandparent or other family member has concerns about a child’s wellbeing.

Here, you'll find clear and accurate information about how to get custody of a child, including:

To start, here are some important things to keep in mind if you find yourself facing a possible child custody fight: 



New York Family Courts

Learn about the child custody resources available to you at the New York's 62 County Family Courts.


How Courts Make Child Custody Decisions in New York

New York courts strongly consider the "best interest of the child" when making child custody decisions. State law directs judges to decide custody cases taking into account all the circumstances of the custody case and what's best for the children involved. (See New York Domestic Relations Law 240.)

That said, the state's statutes don't set out a specific list of factors for courts to look at when determining what is in a child's best interest. Instead, New York's best interest factors have been established by many years of court cases decided in the state.



How Does Child Custody Work in New York?

If you’re confused about the different types of child custody and how they work, you’re not alone. Here, we’ll demystify some of the basic terms and concepts you need to know when you’re trying to create a good parenting plan, focusing on what it means to share custody of your kids.

To start, let’s look at the two basic legal elements of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is all about where your children live. You and your children’s other parent may share physical custody or just one of you may get physical custody. The legal term for sharing is joint physical custody. If the kids live with just one parent, that’s called sole physical custody.



Who Claims a Child on Taxes After a Custody Case?

When parents divorce or separate, the law allows only one of them to claim their child as a tax dependent. The question of who gets the tax credits is more important than ever since the American Rescue Plan increased child tax credits in 2021.

By default, the IRS gives the right to claim the child tax credit to the custodial parent—that is, the parent with whom the child lives for more than half of the year. But there are ways to change the default rule and give child-related tax benefits to the non-custodial parent.

In this article, you'll learn:



Can You Change Child Support Payment Amounts By Moving to a Different State?

A 2019 study showed that child support payment amounts vary dramatically from state to state. A parent in one state may pay or receive up to three times as much as a parent in an identical situation who lives in another state—and the differences don’t depend on the cost of living.

Given this, a parent might reasonably wonder whether it would be possible to get a lot more child support—or pay a lot less—by moving to the state next door. For better or worse, it’s not that easy.