New York Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

These guidelines will help you make your custody and visitation schedule (also called a parenting time schedule). A schedule is one part of your New York parenting plan.

A parenting plan is required if you settle your case. Presenting a suggested plan and schedule during trial is optional; it can help you by illustrating your desired arrangement to the court.

Before you map out a schedule, consider your child's unique needs. Contact your county court to find out if it has any specific rules or forms.

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Choosing a type of physical custody

Physical custody, or primary placement, refers to who the child lives with. Begin by deciding if joint physical custody or sole physical custody would be best for your child, and include this required element in your parenting plan.

In joint physical custody, your child spends significant time with both parents. In sole physical custody, your child lives primarily with one parent and (usually) has visits with the other.

The court will approve whatever type of physical custody you and the other parent agree to, unless there are concerns about the child's well-being.

If you do not agree, the court will decide for you. Expect joint physical custody, as this is the default as long as it's in the child's best interest.

If you want sole physical custody and the other parent disagrees, you must prove to the court that it would benefit your child.

Showing the details of your physical custody arrangement

A custody and visitation schedule explains the details of your arrangement. The schedule should specify:

  • If/how parents will split time with the child on weekdays
  • If/how parents will split time with the child on weekends
  • If/how parents will split time with the child during school breaks
  • If/how parents will split time with the child on holidays and special occasions
  • If/when each parent can take the child on vacation

Your schedule must have a written version. You have the option to add a visual custody calendar for easier comprehension.

Be sure to specify which items take precedence. For example, holidays should supersede the regular schedule. This means that if Memorial Day is your stipulated holiday with the kids, you'll spend the day with them even if they usually spend Mondays with the other parent.

Occasionally, a parenting plan states that parents will decide on visitation as they go, rather than laying out a specific timetable. Attorneys caution against being so vague. Even the most amicable co-parents benefit from having a structure to fall back on if they need it.

Common schedules for joint physical custody

You can create a schedule from scratch or look at popular parenting schedules for ideas.

Remember that New York prefers to give a child significant time with both parents, as long as this benefits the child.

Below are examples of schedules you could use to give equal time to two parents. Schedules that split time unevenly also count as joint physical custody if both parents have significant time with the child.

The 2-2-5-5 schedule has your child spend two days with one parent, then two days with the other, then five days with the first parent and five days with the other.

The 3-4-4-3 schedule has your child spend three days with one parent, then four days with the other parent. The next week, the child spends four days with the first parent, then three days with the other.

The alternating weeks schedule has your child spend seven days with one parent, then seven days with the other.

Other custody and visitation arrangements

For sole physical custody, a common schedule in New York gives the noncustodial parent visits every other weekend, plus one to two visits midweek.

The parents then alternate custody on major holidays like Christmas, and the noncustodial parent gets two weeks with the child during summer break.

If necessary, you can have supervised visitation, where your child visits the noncustodial parent only when supervised by another adult.

You can also ask the court for no visitation if it's better for the child not to be around the other parent.

The court can grant visitation with grandparents, stepparents, foster parents and any other person that has played a significant role in the child's life, as long as it is what's best for the child.

Visitation awarded to a nonparent shouldn't interfere with the established visitation time of another parent. Keep this in mind when making your visitation schedule, if applicable.

Age-based considerations

Custody and visitation schedules are often distinct for children of different ages, even within the same family. In addition, schedules often need to change as a child grows.

Infants and toddlers need frequent, consistent contact with caretakers to develop secure relationships and limit anxiety. Older children are able to handle longer periods away from each parent, but need their extracurricular activities and social lives accounted for.

The easiest way to make a schedule

If you're like most parents, creating a custody and visitation schedule will feel daunting. How do you write something that meets legal requirements and doesn't leave any loose ends?

The Custody X Change app makes it easy. Either customize a schedule template, or click and drag in your custody calendar to make a schedule from scratch.

Then watch a full description appear in your custom parenting plan.

The combination of a visual and written schedule means your family will have no problem knowing who has the child when. Take advantage of Custody X Change to make your schedule as clear and thorough as can be.

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

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