Custody Orders in NY: Types, Modification, Enforcement

A court can issue several types of custody orders, all of which legally mandate how a child should be cared for. Find information on emergency orders, temporary orders and final orders below.

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Emergency orders

Also known as an ex parte order, an emergency order is a type of temporary order. 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 will 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 conduct an investigation to determine if the issue warrants an emergency order.

When you open your case or go to modify an order, request the emergency order through an Article 6 custody petition or an Article 8 family offense petition. With the family offense petition, the offending party can potentially face criminal charges.

Often, a judge will hear your case the day you file. You'll be sworn in under oath and explain your situation. The respondent can inform the judge they're contesting, but can't present information.

If the judge decides to issue the emergency order, he or she will schedule another hearing, at which the order can be terminated, extended or replaced by temporary orders. At this hearing, the accused party can present evidence.

Temporary orders

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

Also known as pendente lite orders, these orders dictate physical custody, visitation and child support throughout the litigation process or settlement process. They are 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 requested from the court. If a parent disagrees with a temporary order, he or she can propose another.

Temporary orders, by their nature, focus on short-term issues and solutions, but lawyers caution that they can affect final orders and should be approached with that in mind.

Final orders

A final 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.

A final order replaces any temporary custody orders that were in place.

Your order will specify details of legal custody and physical custody, which can be 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 require parents to agree on a schedule at a later date.

Final orders can be reached in two ways. Preferably, the parties draw up the terms together, and a judge signs off to finalize them provided they are in the child's best interests. Known as settling, this is considered the gold standard by courts and parenting experts, as it keeps families in charge of their own lives.

Alternatively, a judge will rule based on the evidence.

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 new plan together, sign it, and submit to the court for approval.

If the parents do not agree, they can petition to modify. At a hearing, the judge or referee will determine whether there's been a significant and material change in circumstances that makes a modification necessary to serve the child's best interest.

Barring a dramatic event, such as 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 orders issued by a court, you should keep detailed records of the violations. You can use your Custody X Change journal or actual parenting time tracker. Note that an opposing party may be entitled to review such notes through discovery.

For serious or repeat violations, you can contact police or file for order enforcement. If you think your situation calls for a contempt of court case, speak to an attorney; these are typically criminal proceedings.

Staying in compliance with court orders

When a court issues orders, it's essential you follow them to the letter. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, charged with a crime and more.

Orders for visitation can be particularly difficult to decipher. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day is considered the middle of winter break?

Use Custody X Change to transform your order into a calendar you can edit and print, so you'll never have to wonder whether you're staying in compliance.

With the Custody X Change app, you can combine possession schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one master calendar. Making changes is easy; just click a time block and type in your updates.

Take advantage of our technology so you never have to wonder if you're interpreting the court's order correctly.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and schedules.

Make My New York Plan Now

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and schedules.

Make My Plan

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and schedules.

Make My New York Plan Now

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