Child Custody & Parenting Agreements

Our goal at Vacca Family Law Group is to assist you in creating a child custody and parenting plan that reflects the realities of your family's situation and focuses on your children's best interests. 

Will the children do best living primarily with one parent, or would it be best if they lived with each parent an equal amount of time? How will decisions be made about their education, medical care, activities and more? What will happen if a parent needs to relocate? These are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed, and the answers will be different in each family.

How Child Custody and Parenting Agreements Work

Regardless of whether you were married to the other parent, once you are no longer in a relationship together, you need the legal protection of a written custody and parenting plan to clearly define each parent’s rights and responsibilities. When parents are not able to reach an agreement on the essential issues, a court will end up making the decisions for them, and the results may not be desirable for anyone in the family. 

If, instead, you and the other parent create a well-thought-out and well-written child custody and parenting plan, you are on your way toward a successful co-parenting relationship. The discussions and negotiations involved in creating a parenting plan give you and the other parent the opportunity to consider many of the parenting issues that will arise while raising your children. 

What may be a good parenting schedule at one age may not be appropriate as children grow. By negotiating a custody and parenting plan outside of court, parents can include agreements about how expected and unexpected changes will be negotiated in the future. The process of negotiating and resolving issues leads to healthy co-parenting that is in the best interests of your child and can allow families to feel secure. 

Questions About Child Custody and Parenting Plans

If you are thinking about child custody and parenting plans in New York, you may have a variety of concerns. Some of the most common questions we get include:

How is child custody determined in New York?

The standard for determining custody is based on what is “in the best interest of the child.” While there are no set rules for this standard, in New York the "child's health and safety shall be the paramount concerns" when making this decision.  If parents cannot agree on a child’s custody arrangement, courts may intervene and determine it for them.

Is New York A 50/50 custody state?

New York is not a 50/50 state, which means there is not an automatic equal division of custody between both parents. If parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a court will weigh certain factors to determine what it believes is in the best interests of the child.  

What's the difference between physical and legal custody in New York?

Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child spends time. The parent that has physical custody is responsible for the child’s physical care. One parent may have primary physical custody, which means the child is with that parent more than half the time.  Parents can also share joint physical custody, which means the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents.

Legal custody refers to how parents make important decsions for the child including medical decisions and those involving upbringing, such as education and religion. Legal custody can be awarded to a single parent or both parents jointly. If parents have joint legal custody, major decisions must be made with the consent of both parents.

What does it mean to have sole custody in New York?

When one parent has sole custody, it means the child is primarily in that parent’s care. The parent will also have the right to make all decisions for the child. The other, noncustodial, parent may be able to spend time with the child according to a schedule, but in some cases there is little to no contact between this parent and the child.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan sets out the specific arrangements for how parents will share responsibility for the child. The parenting plan can cover many details, including a parenting schedule for weekdays, weekends, holidays and school breaks, decision-making guidelines and guidelines for communication.

We Can Help You Work Toward a Successful Co-Parenting Plan

A well-written parenting agreement can serve as a roadmap showing how you will raise and support your child together while living in separate homes. Moreover, a thoughtful parenting plan could help you avoid costly, stressful and time-consuming litigation.

At Vacca Family Law Group, we are ready to help you find the right answer for your family. Contact us today to get started.