New York Divorce Guide

Parenting Plans

In all divorce, separation or annulment Parenting plansfilings where minor children are involved, a parenting plan must be established and subsequently approved by the court. You have an opportunity to draw up your own with your spouse, but if that effort fails, the court will impose one. In either case, the parenting plan will have two main components:

A Parenting Schedule – describes the days and times that the child will be with each parent, how and by whom the child will travel between the parents, where the
transfers will occur and who will pay any expenses associated by the transfers.

Decision Making – the nature of how major decisions will be made and by whom on the more important issues in the child’s life (health, education, religious and
social issues).

It’s your plan or the court’s plan – you choose

The court will either approve your plan or issue its Parenting plansown based on the child’s best interest. Key factors that receive scrutiny include:

  • the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child
  • the capability and desire of each parent to meet these needs
  • the child’s preference if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a preference
  • the love and affection existing between the child and each parent
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child, except that the court may not consider this willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either the parent or the child
  • any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the proposed custodial household or a history of violence between the parents
  • evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household directly affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child
  • other factors that the court considers pertinent

Will the Ex manipulate you with the kids’ schedule?

Creating the planParenting plans

There are templates on the internet that you can use to draft a simplified version of a parenting plan. Templates can be helpful in organizing your ideas and needs, but they generally do not offer or prompt details that you might otherwise not think of to include in your plan. Additionally, plans on paper tend to get lost by one of the parents, or the plan gets stale as the child grows and his or her needs and activities change. Making changes to the schedule become problematic with paper plans (changing it and reprinting it each time).

Custody and visitation

Who gets custody and the terms of visitation are detailed in the plan. Issues such as the specifics for visitation, travel costs, who gets the tax deductions for the kids, health insurance
and other choices are included.

The best online plan we have found

There are a handful of online, high-quality parenting plan platforms available. We suggest using Our Family Wizard. Your best move is to put a plan online and have only one parent be able to make changes to the child’s schedule online (that would be you). With a plan online, your child’s schedule is mapped out months (or years) in advance, and can be viewed by your Ex or your children online. This provides security and continuity to kids, and notifies the Ex that any changes must be discussed and agreed to. In fact, those parents that have used the online version report less chaos with kids schedules than ever before.

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