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Do I Have to Agree to Give My Spouse Joint Custody?

Negotiating a child custody agreement can be difficult if your goals and desires are different from your spouse’s expectations. You may want sole custody of your child, but your ex is pursuing joint custody, or even sole custody. Do you have to agree to compromise?

The short answer is no, you don’t have to agree to give in to your spouse’s demands. But you must have a clear picture of what joint custody means, and how the law applies to the facts of your case. It is also important to understand the risks of taking an unreasonable position that will set the stage for a court battle.

Joint Legal Custody vs. Shared Physical Custody

If your spouse is seeking joint custody, keep in mind that there are many different outcomes available for your unique situation. In New York specifically, there are two aspects of child custody: legal custody (i.e. decision making) and physical custody (i.e. where the child lives).

Essentially, joint legal custody means that both parents have the legal right to be informed and make important decisions regarding the child's health, education, and religious beliefs. Shared physical custody means that the child will live with both parents, usually on a 50/50 basis. There are many other types of physical custody, including primary residential custody with one parent, and alternate weekends with the other.

You and your child custody attorney can look at all the possible arrangements and decide what works best with your goals and what is in the best interest of your child.

Taking Your Case to Court

If you still wish to pursue sole physical and sole legal custody, you can do so, as long as your expectations are in line with reality. If you and your spouse do not agree on this, your case may have to go before a judge. Your child custody attorney will collect evidence in your favor showing you are the more fit parent to take care of your child and present this evidence in court.

At this point, a judge will decide a custody arrangement that is in the “best interest of the child.”

Contact a Long Island Child Custody Attorney

We understand how sensitive this may be for you and your family. Our mission is to help you navigate the legal process and pursue your child custody goals. With over 150 years of collective legal experience, our attorneys will work hard on behalf of your family so that you can focus on healing together.

Contact Wisselman, Harounian & Associates at (516) 406-8500 to schedule your free case review with one of our Long Island child custody attorneys.

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