Divorce Attorneys on Long Island Draft Parenting Plans
Manageable solutions to complex child custody issues
The part of your divorce decree that lays out your child custody rights and responsibilities is called the parenting plan. It details when you have physical possession of your children, in what areas you have decision-making authority, and how you and the other parent will resolve disagreements affecting the children’s upbringing. As part of a court order, your parenting plan has the force of law, so you must do everything in your power to avoid onerous, impractical, or unrealistic terms. At Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., we help our clients arrive at manageable parenting plans that protect their parental rights and address their children’s needs. Through determined negotiation and aggressive litigation, we fight to secure the best outcome possible so you can continue to enjoy a loving relationship with your children.
What should your parenting plan include?
A parenting plan must be as detailed as possible but still allow for flexibility to accommodate the everyday chaos we encounter in life. The court has a model parenting plan that provides a framework and includes the following elements:
- Identification of the children
- Parenting time schedule for weekdays and weekends during the school year
- Summer schedule
- Holiday schedule
- School break schedules
- Children’s birthday schedules
- Designation of primary residence
- Arrangements for alternate care
- Contingencies for temporary changes to the schedule
- Decision-making guidelines for day-to-day matters and major issues
- Guidelines for information sharing
- Restrictions on relocation
- Guidelines for parent-child communication
- Guidelines for exchange of custody
- Other matters parents need to settle
While you’re negotiating the plan, it’s important for you to be as open about your concerns as possible. A parenting plan works best when it is specifically tailored to your family’s needs. You know your situation and your children better than any judge does, so the agreement you reach through negotiations or mediation has a better chance of being fair to both parties than a court order based on a judge’s limited observation of you in court. On the other hand, if the other parent is being unreasonable, you must fight aggressively to protect yourself from an adverse order that unfairly restricts your parental rights.
Modifying and enforcing parenting plans on Long Island
Even the best parenting plan has a shelf life. Your children grow, your lives change, and it’s time to update the plan to accommodate those changes. As a general rule, you can expect to modify your parenting plan through agreement once every three years. The process is relatively simple. You express your concerns to your attorney, as does the other parent. Negotiations take place, and you formulate a new agreement. You file a child custody modification motion and present your new agreement to the court for approval. The court approves the new plan and nullifies the old plan. If you can’t reach an agreement on the new plan, you will have to ask the judge to order a modification to the existing order.
On the other hand, you may have to petition the court to enforce your current plan or modify the plan because of the other parent’s failure to adhere to the existing order. This usually happens after several attempts to compel compliance, including a letter from your lawyer threatening legal action if the other parent doesn’t start observing the plan. When we go to court to support your request for a custody modification or enforcement hearing, we go fully prepared to fight and win. That means gathering supporting evidence to make your case, such as:
- A journal detailing the other parent’s noncompliance with the plan
- A report contrasting actual parenting time with the schedule
- Changes to your children’s school or activity schedules that impact parenting time
- Evidence of changes to either parent’s employment or address
- Statements from doctors, teachers, coaches, or other witnesses
- Statements from your children who are mature enough to have their wishes considered
- Documentation of the other parent’s unfit behavior
- Any other relevant evidence
You must remember that the other parent’s noncompliance does not free you from your responsibilities under the plan. When you go to court, you want to show you have “clean hands,” so you must continue to abide by the plan until the judge issues a modification.
Let our knowledgeable child custody lawyers draft your parenting plan. Call us now.
Your parenting plan details your parental rights and allows you to enforce them in court. For an appropriate and workable parenting plan, trust Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. with your negotiations and litigation. Contact us online for a free initial consultation with our concerned attorneys. If your case is urgent, do not email. Call us immediately at 1.631.479.3839.