In a divorce case that involves minor children, one major issue that must be addressed under New York State law is custody. Contrary to popular presumption, custody does not refer to which parent the child lives with, though this is one aspect of custody. Another factor is how major decisions are handled, such as those regarding the key components of child-rearing. When a parent has sole custody, he or she will make all legal decisions and the child resides with that person. Joint custody involves sharing in decision-making, including a determination on where the child resides and how time is divvied up between the parents.
The nature of the arrangement requires parents to agree on issues related to raising the child, which they typically memorialize in a parenting plan. The more areas you can concur on as parents, the less likely it is that you will need to get the court involved in the event of a dispute. Still, there are five essentials you should include, and a skilled New York divorce and family law attorney can help.
When the child primarily resides with one parent, the other parent is entitled to parenting time, a concept familiarly known as visitation. In the parenting plan, you may designate a formula, such as every other weekend, specific days during the week, and special occasions. It is also important to allocate parenting time during school breaks.
Daily decisions are usually handled by the parent who is caring for the child at the time, so either parent can make them. Beyond the day-to-day, it is wise to clarify who has authority to make decisions on which topics. You should also include provisions on whether one parent can make decisions unilaterally, or only after consultation and agreement. Issues to include in the parenting plan include determinations on:
When one parent is spending time with the child according to the parenting schedule, you should address the other parent’s access for purposes of communication. Interference with parenting time, such as by frequent calling, texting, and messaging can lead to heated disputes.
Joint custody requires participation by both parents, so it is critical to keep the lines of communication open as they pertain to the child. Your parenting plan should include your agreement to share:
If one parent’s circumstances change, it may be necessary to relocate. There are statutory requirements regarding relocation under New York law, but you can address this scenario in the parenting plan to avoid a protracted legal battle.
Consult with a Skilled New York Family Lawyer Regarding Parenting Plans
If you have questions about parenting plans or child custody issues, please contact the experienced attorneys at Monarch Law Group.. We have extensive knowledge in New York divorce and family laws, and we are happy to schedule a free consultation at our Wall Street or Long Island, NY offices.