How Do Courts Determine Who Gets Custody? – Massapequa Divorce Lawyer

How Do Courts Determine Who Gets Custody?

The Best Divorce Lawyers on Long Island Discuss:

When people get married, no one expects to get a divorce. Yet in America, that reality is often a figure of imagination as a staggering 40 to 50 percent of people in the United States get divorced.  Compounding the situation is the most sensitive and asked about topic….how do the courts determine who gets custody?

Having been voted best divorce lawyer on Long Island four years in a row, we here at Simonetti & Associates want to fill you in on how that question gets answered.  From factors to deciding custody, to the role the court plays, to types of custody arrangements- we’ve got you covered.

Custody Arrangement

It’s first important to note, that before the decision goes to the to courts- the decision can be decided by the parents. Usually with help from attorneys, counselors, or mediators, if the parents come to an agreement that both will possess  “equal, legal rights” in the child’s upbringing, “joint legal custody” will be given.

The Courts

If the parents, however, are unable to come to an agreement, then the decision falls to the courts, usually by a family court judge. The judge will then review multiple factors with the child’s “best interests” often the biggest consideration. But as one of the best divorce lawyers on Long Island, we’ve seen that proving that can become difficult. Another barometer, however, in figuring out custody is finding out the child’s “primary caretaker”. This is determined by figuring out what parent has had the greatest responsibility and influence regarding the upbringing of the child.

Factors in Determining Custody:

Judges will hear testimony on a variety of topics before making a decision on custody. Some of them include…

  • Each parents relationship with the child
  • The child’s own wishes
  • Which parent is mentally, emotionally, and physically capable of handling the responsibility
  • The home environment each parent would be able to provide for the child
  • Childs age
  • Previous issues with the law including drugs or alcohol
  • Religious factors
  • Finances


Types of Custody

Once the judge makes his decision, there are four different types of custody rulings.  


  • Joint custody:  As mentioned earlier, joint custody is an agreement where both spouses will share legal and custody responsibilities while being active in the upbringing of the child. In New York, however, this is harder to obtain as the state generally doesn’t prefer joint custody cases.
  • Split custody:  This gives both parents custody when it comes to multiple children. This isn’t common.
  • Third-party custody: Only happening in extreme cases, this occurs when a judge awards custody to someone besides the parents.
  • Sole custody:  When a parent possesses both physical and legal custody of the child.

Interested in finding out more information, or looking for one of the best divorce lawyers on Long Island? Offering 29 years of experience, flexible hours, affordable pricing and a free consultation-make sure you contact Simonetti & Associates next time you need legal assistance.