New York Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
This article covers custody agreements in New York and gives guidelines on creating an effective parenting plan for New York courts.
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
When creating a parenting plan in the State of New York, it is important to become familiar with the state legislation pertaining to child custody and visitation so you may develop a parenting plan the court will be more likely to approve.
These laws can be found in the Laws of New York, Domestic Relations, and in the Family Law Act of New York.
New York City has its own court rules, and the individual counties have their own rules, too. You will want to review your local rules as you begin making your plan to check if there are any special provisions you should know about.
When you create a parenting plan that meet the requirements of the law and serves the needs of your child, you are more likely to have a positive outcome in your case.
When you bring your child custody and visitation case before a court in the State of New York, you should be given the choice of whether to have your case completely decided upon:
- By a judge
- By working with the other parent to create a custody agreement / parenting plan
- By attending mediation with the other parent in order to come to an agreement on the custody and visitation of your child.
How you have the custody arrangements for your child made depends entirely on your specific set of circumstances.
Typically, only the most hostile of cases, such as cases involving domestic violence or other abuse, are decided upon solely by the judge.
If you are so combative that you cannot be in the same room with each other, joint custody and co-parenting are not likely options for you, and your case will (usually) also be determined by the judge.
Most parents prefer to have input into their parenting plans, and can treat each other will civility in the process.
There are two types of custody in the State of New York: Legal custody and physical custody. You will need to decide whether you will share (joint custody) or only one of you will have (sole custody) each type of custody.
Deciding between a joint or sole custody agreement is one of the first things to determine in making an agreement, so it's important to understand what each one means.
Here is some information about joint and sole custody:
- You can have joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.
- In joint legal custody, the parents make major decisions about the child together and the smaller, day-to-day decisions are made by the parent who is physically caring for the child at the time.
- In joint physical custody, each parent has significant periods of parenting time with the child (this doesn't mean that parenting time is equal).
- In sole custody, just one parent has the right to make major decisions.
As parents, you are the ones who know your child best. It makes sense that you should be the ones responsible for determining the custody of your child. This can be done be making a parenting plan to submit to the court.
Working together to create your plan will give you creative freedom and allow you to customize the plan according to your child's specific needs.
It may help to keep in mind that your relationship with each other is not ending. It is just changing. If you can work in cooperation with the other parent, you should start with the items you both can agree on, and save the tougher issues for mediation.
Your New York parenting plan should include:
- The name, age, and gender of the child
- A designation as to the legal and physical custody of the child
- Statements defining the decision making authority of each parent for important issues in the child's life
- A parenting time or child custody schedule that defines when the child will spend time with each parent on a regular basis, holidays, and vacations
- A stipulation for make-up parenting time if there is a medical reason that prevents visitation with the child
- A method for making changes and modifications to the parenting plan, as well as a periodic review of the plan
- Adjustments to the visitation based on the age of the child
- A method for dispute resolution, with returning to court as the final option
- A statement that includes provisions for information sharing
- Specifications for parental relocation, including move to different states
- Stipulations for elected medical procedures, such as orthodontics
- Provisions for parent/child communication
- Provisions for the transportation and exchange of the child
- An agreement to treat each other with mutual respect
- Any other terms you may wish to include
If both parents agree to the parenting plan and sign it, it is called a Stipulated Parenting Plan.
If parents do not agree on a plan, each parent may submit their own parenting plan to the court, called a Proposed Parenting Plan.
A Stipulated Parenting Plan will be reviewed to ensure the plan is complete and will serve the needs and best interests of the child, and will typically be approved.
A Proposed Parenting Plan will be under the scrutiny of the judge and in that case, the proposed plans will be considered, but the child custody arrangement and parenting plan will be created by the court.
No. You may either use a standard form of create your own.
The Supreme Court of the State of New York has a standardized parenting plan form available and there are blank spaces to write in the details of each subject.
It is important to go through this form carefully, as it is easy to leave out important details you may wish to include in your parenting plan if you are just filling out a form. The standard form might not have sufficient space for including all of the details you may want to include.
If you wish to create your own parenting plan, you may do so in lieu of filing out the form by submitting your parenting plan according to the court rules or by including it as an attachment to the standardized form.
When you create your own customized parenting plan, it allows you to be creative with it and also can let you calculate the actual amount of time each of you will spend with the child.
The top twenty cities in New York (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, Albany, Cheektowaga, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Schenectady, Utica, White Plains, Tonawanda, Brentwood, Hemptstead, Levittown, Niagara Falls, Irondequoit, Troy, Binghamton.