In New York, couples going through a divorce or a separation are required to draft a parenting plan that lays out a basic custody agreement. While many couples are able to work together and create a plan that works for both parties and is in the best interest of their child, others reach an impasse and so must abide by the determination of the court.
Creating a parenting plan can be a difficult process, so if you are considering a divorce and have questions or concerns about drafting a custody agreement, it is critical to contact an experienced family law attorney who can help walk you through the process.
The Primary Goals of a Parenting Plan
While creating a parenting plan, the parties should attempt to ensure that certain goals are fulfilled, including that:
- The child can continue to have a close relationship with both parents;
- Both parties will be consistently involved in the child’s life;
- The child feels loved and safe;
- The unique relationships that a child has with each parent will be maintained; and
- The parties will share the responsibility of caring for the child.
Focusing on these goals can help parents put aside their differences and create a plan that is best for their child. When a couple is unable to come to an agreement, a court will be required to create a custody arrangement, which takes a significant amount of control out of the hands of the parents.
Important Factors for Syracuse Child Custody
Before drafting a parenting plan, the parties should take into account certain factors, including:
- The age, gender, and maturity of each child;
- The parties’ work schedules;
- The distance between the parents’ homes;
- Existing childcare arrangements;
- The emotional and social needs of the child;
- Whether a child has special needs;
- Who will be responsible for certain expenses;
- The health and safety of the child; and
- The level of communication desired by the parents.
The Details of a Parenting Plan
By weighing these factors, parents may be better able to create a parenting plan that includes details about the following issues:
- Parenting time, including which parent will have visitation during the week, on weekends, during holidays, birthdays, and during summer, winter, and spring breaks;
- Whether one or both parents will have the right and responsibility of making decisions about the child’s health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities;
- If the child will be able to visit grandparents and extended family;
- How exchanges of a child will take place, including where and when the child will be dropped off or picked up;
- How information regarding the child, such as grades, health issues, educational progress, and test scores will be shared;
- What steps will be taken if one parent chooses to relocate;
- How and when parents can communicate with their child when he or she is in the other parent’s custody;
- The process for making changes to the visitation schedule;
- Household rules regarding cell phone use, dating, homework, employment, and curfews; and
- Who will provide child support.
Court Ordered Syracuse Child Custody Arrangements
If a couple is unable to come to an agreement on these issues, a court will be required to step in and create an independent child custody arrangement. In creating a plan, courts take a variety of factors into consideration, including:
- The health, stability, lifestyle, and schedules of both parties;
- Whether either parent has a criminal record or has been accused of child abuse or domestic violence;
- Which parent has historically been the child’s primary caregiver;
- Each parent’s financial ability to provide a safe and healthy environment for the child;
- Each child’s age, routine, gender, and educational needs;
- The emotional bond between a child and each of the parents; and
- Whether the parents are willing to work together in regards to decision making and resolving conflicts.
While these considerations may factor into a court’s analysis, a judge’s primary concern in drafting an agreement will be the best interest of the child.
Child's Rights of Custody
The parties must also be careful not to infringe on a child’s rights, which include, but are not limited to:
- The right not to be forced to choose sides between parents;
- The right not to be told negative things about the other parent;
- The right not to be overly questioned after visiting with the other parent;
- The right not to be asked to tell the other parent lies;
- The right to be protected from parental conflict; and
- The right not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents equally.
By respecting these rights, parties to a divorce are much more likely to reach an amicable agreement regarding custody and child support matters.
Work with a Dedicated Syracuse Child Custody Attorney Today
Creating a parenting plan that is primarily focused on a child’s best interest can help both parents and children transition more smoothly into life after a divorce, so if you are considering a divorce, please contact Bombardo Law Office, P.C. at 315-488-5544 to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney who can explain your legal options. We happily serve clients in Fairmount, Onondaga, Marcellus, Lakeland, Van Buren, Oneida, Bridgeport, Taunton, Liverpool, and other surrounding Syracuse areas.