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Parenting and Custody Agreements

Supreme Court and Family Court both have jurisdiction over family custody and visitation in New York State. Custody is involves two components, the first being to determine the primary residence of the child (where the child lives the majority of the time – the parent at this residence is considered the custodial parent) and the second to determine how major decisions (education, health, religion, and activities) will be made. The time spent with the non-custodial parent is either called a visitation schedule or parenting access schedule.  This schedule addresses where the child(ren) will be on weekdays, weekends, vacations, overnights, meals, holidays, school year and summer schedules. Also discussed are methods of transportation and communication, as well as specific meeting places and times.

In mediation parents are encouraged to place the best interests of the children first and any plan should be realistic considering work schedules and child’s involvement in activities, etc.  Parents oftentimes discuss in detail how to take care of their children, ensure time with both parents, and best meet their children’s medical, emotional, social, educational, spiritual, and other developmental needs. This will assist the children to adjust to different household rules, parenting styles, and their parents’ strengths and challenges.

Topics may include:

  • Establishing where a child will live the majority of the time (custody)
  • Developing an interim and/or permanent parenting plan
  • Renegotiation and memorializing changes to an existing parenting access schedule and plan for more or less access
  • Non-compliance or enforcement of parenting access schedule/ visitation (when a parent is not following parenting access schedule/visitation)
  • Discussing a child’s educational plan, “Individual Evaluation Process” Special Education or other needs
  • Relocation of one parent and its impact on custody, parenting access and child support
  • Addressing concerns regarding safety of a child when with a parent
  • Exploring concerns regarding who has access to the child or cares for the child during a parents time with the child(ren)
  • Discussing why children do not wish to spend time with a parent
  • Concerns about a child’s safety when with a parent due to alcohol or drugs
  • Exploring change of custody requests from a parent or child
  • Requests for grandparent or extended family contact
  • Discussing a child need for therapy and or family counseling
  • Preparing for a child’s enrolment in college
  • Discussing a child’s medical needs