New York Child Custody Orders

A court can issue several types of custody orders, all of which legally mandate how a child must be cared for.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Make My New York Plan Now

Emergency orders

Also known as an ex parte order, an emergency order is a type of temporary order for issues that can't wait until a regular hearing. An emergency order might be necessary if a child is at risk of being harmed or removed from the state within a few days.

Attorneys recommend filing for emergency orders via family court for its faster timeline. If you'll be separating or divorcing through supreme court, you can first file your emergency issue in family court. Another option is to contact Child Protective Services, who will investigate whether the issue warrants an emergency order.

When you open your case or go to modify an order, request the emergency order through a custody petition or a family offense petition. With the family offense petition, the offending party may face criminal charges.

Often, a judge will hear your case the day you file. You'll take an oath and explain your situation. The other parent can inform the judge that they disagree but can't share any more information that day.

If the judge decides to issue the emergency order, they'll schedule another hearing, at which the order can be terminated, extended or replaced by a temporary order. At this hearing, the other parent can present evidence.

Temporary orders

Temporary custody orders provide short-term solutions to parenting disputes that can wait until a regular hearing but cannot wait until the end of legal proceedings. Not all cases have temporary custody orders.

Also known as pendente lite orders, these orders can dictate physical custody, visitation and child support throughout the litigation process or settlement process. They're often issued at the first appearance or conference, and they remain in effect until a judge modifies them or issues final orders.

Temporary orders can be agreed upon by parents or decided by the court.

If your temporary orders work well, your final orders will likely look similar. Keep this in mind when you consider what to ask for in your request for temporary orders.

Final orders

A final custody order is a court ruling that lasts until one of the following occurs:

  • The child turns 18.
  • The child is emancipated.
  • The parents reach an alternate agreement.
  • A parent proves a significant change in circumstances that renders a new order necessary.

Final orders replace any temporary custody orders that were in place.

Your order will specify details of legal custody and physical custody, which are sometimes different for each child in a family. It may also mandate things like substance abuse treatment or parenting coordination.

In New York, custody orders usually include a visitation schedule, unless one parent is found unfit. Some orders let parents agree on a schedule later.

Like temporary orders, final orders can be reached in two ways.

Option 1: A judge rules based on the evidence.

Option 2: The parents draw up a parenting plan together, and a judge signs off (provided the terms are in the child's best interests). Known as settling, this is considered the gold standard because it keeps families in charge of their own lives.

If a parent has reason to challenge a judge's decision, they can appeal to a higher court and begin the legal process again.

Modifying a final order

Final orders are almost always modifiable. If parents wish to modify final orders anytime before their child turns 18, they have two options.

First, they can develop a parenting plan together, sign it, and submit it to the court for approval.

If the parents don't agree, they can petition to modify. At a hearing, the judge or referee will determine whether a significant change in circumstances has made a modification necessary for the child's sake.

Barring a dramatic event, like abuse or neglect, the judge is unlikely to grant a modification within a year of issuing the order.

Enforcing a final order

If the other parent doesn't follow a court order, keep detailed records of the violations. You can use your Custody X Change journal or actual parenting time tracker. Note that the other parent may be entitled to review your notes through discovery.

For serious or repeat violations, you can contact police or file for order enforcement. Another option is to file a contempt of court case, which is typically a criminal proceeding; if you think your situation calls for this, speak to an attorney.

Following court orders correctly

When a court issues orders, you must follow them. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, fined and more.

But orders are complicated, especially for visitation. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day marks the middle of summer break?

Use Custody X Change to plug your order into a calendar you can edit, share and print so you'll never have to wonder whether you're following the order correctly.

With the Custody X Change online app, you can combine schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one calendar.

You can even track how well court orders are being followed with our parenting time tracker and parenting journal.

Custody X Change has all the tools you need to set your new parenting arrangement up for success.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Make My New York Plan Now

Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

Join the 60,000+ other parents who have used our co-parenting tools

Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

Co-parent civilly

Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

Never forget an exchange or activity

Get push notifications and email reminders, sync with other calendar apps and share with the other parent.

Save up to $50,000 by avoiding court

Write your parenting agreement without lawyers. Our templates walk you through each step.

Make My Plan

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My New York Plan Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan