Physical custody

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1) A parent’s right to have the child reside with them. New York Domestic Relations Law § 75–a defines physical custody as “the physical care and supervision of a child.” Physical custody is not the same as legal custody, which is the parent’s ability to make developmental, educational, and legal decisions for the child. Parents may establish custody arrangement through family courts or voluntarily. Such physical custody arrangements may take the shape of sharing physical custody of a child—i.e. joint custody—or giving one parent complete physical custody of the child—i.e. sole custody. A court may also order a child away from an environment into physical custody when the child faces imminent danger. For example, New York Domestic Relations Law § 77–j provides that “[a] petitioner may file a verified application for the issuance of a warrant to take physical custody of the child if the child is at imminent risk of suffering serious physical harm or of removal from this state.”

2) See protective custody.

[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]