Joint Custody

In his time as a professional litigator, trained mediator, and certified collaborative lawyer, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro Esq. has worked alongside a number of different people, and family members, grappling with the complexities involved with family law. His time practicing has given him a comprehensive insight into the confusion that can arise in parents and guardians when faced with the terminology used in matters of custody. In fact, in many circumstances, Mr. Shapiro attempts to explain the matters in question in detail with parents or guardians, who are left feeling unsure about the custody level they have been granted - and what those orders mean to their decision making authority.

One issue that Mr. Shapiro has noticed, in working through the courts of Long Island and New York, is that the local statutes might not always offer insight, as they don't always reference "physical" or "legal" custody separately, but instead simply use the word "custody" on a comprehensive basis. However, though this makes the matter more complicated to understand, in most of the cases Darren Shapiro has been involved with have addressed the various aspects of custody involved in family law, from physical and legal custody, to joint and sole orders - even when terms are difficult for parents and caretakers to follow.

Typically, the term "joint custody" when used in a New York Court of law refers to joint legal custody. Because he has been present within a number of custody cases, Mr. Shapiro is able to give his clients information directly related to "legal" custody, which is different than physical custody. In cases regarding legal joint custody, both parents involved receive the court-given right to make determinations regarding important decisions for their child - such as in matters of health or education. Often, when a divorce or custody resolution is amicable - for example, when they are addressed through mediation, parents can voluntarily agree to joint custody agreements which are then approved by a judge. Importantly, however, most courts in New York will not push joint parenting onto a family that require the court to decide the case, as if parents cannot get along enough to compromise during a custody case or divorce, they often will not be able to come together in finding appropriate decisions for their child.

During his time as a family law practitioner, Mr. Shapiro has found himself hearing statements from the court that indicate joint custody can only be a possibility when both parties agree to it. There is some logic behind this statement, as in a joint legal custody situation, neither parent has the option to override the other. In other words, if the couple is unable to agree on something important, the child will be left in a stalemate situation without anyone with the authority to make decisions on their behalf. The particular complexities involved with such cases have been discussed in legal literature before. For example, an article in the Fall/Winter Family Law Section Review from the New York State Bar Association suggested that, as New York law has held to this point - we should know when it cannot be appropriate for joint legal custody to be assigned to a couple. For instance, when a highly antagonistic relationship between the parties exist, joint custody will not be possible. However, an inability to provide joint legal custody to a couple should not rule out the order of joint physical custody.

Mr. Darren Shapiro has seen numerous outcomes as a result of practicing law in the complicated areas of family and child custody. One arrangement that has occurred in the past was named "joint legal custody with spheres of influence" - an award that allowed for each parent to have different final decision making authority over specific areas of a child's life. For example, while one parent in the case may have been given authority over healthcare decisions, the other would be given authority over educational matters and one would be given final say over social and extracurricular decisions while the other religious matters.

While it's true that both psychological practitioners and legal experts alike often agree that families who would be able to make joint legal custody agreements work would offer a better environment and more benefits to children in a transitional situation - we know that this outcome is not always possible. However, it's worth noting that just because parents within a particular case are unable to voluntarily agree to joint legal custody doesn't mean that the outcome cannot be advocated for during a trial. Although achieving a successful outcome in these conditions is not common, the court will always have the authority to award joint custody to both parents following a trial, meaning that the individuals involved do have the right to advocate for such an outcome if they so choose. In fact, the commonly stated concept that most custody battles result in an all or nothing outcome for the people involved isn't always the case.

On a similar note, in regards to matters of custody that are decided by the court on an interim base, during a period of time when the case is pending, the outcome is not always permanent. For example, a New York Judge may order a temporary arrangement for custody during a divorce or custody case that will help to arrange a viable visitation schedule during the process of a pending litigation. When the divorce or the case in question is given a final order, the judge will determine whether the temporary order that was previously given for custody should be transitioned into a permanent order, or whether the arrangement up to this point should be altered. What's more, even once the final order for custody has been entered by the judge, either parent will be able to launch a petition to change the decision levied - or make alterations when circumstances begin to change substantially. For instance, if joint-decisions are not working, then that issue may need to be re-examined.

To learn more about custody and family matters in law, please reach out to us. If you are interested in using Mr. Shapiro to help you, please schedule your initial consultation at your earliest convenience.

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