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Legal Information: New York


November 9, 2020

What is custody?

Custody is the legal responsibility for the care and control of your child (under 18 years old).  When the judge issues a custody order, it will address two parts of custody: legal and physical.1

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make major decisions about your child.  Some types of decisions included in the right of legal custody are: where your child goes to school, whether or not your child gets surgery and what kind of religious training your child receives.2

Physical custody (also called residential custody) is the actual physical care and supervision of your child.  It refers to who your child lives with on a day-to-day basis.3

For more information on custody in New York, you can read The Basics: Custody and Visitation in New York State prepared by an organization called Her Justice.  (WomensLaw is not affiliated with this organization.)  

1 NY Dom Rel § 75-a(3)
2 See the NYS Unified Court System website
3 NY Dom Rel § 75-a(14); see also the NYS Unified Court System website