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Co-Parenting in New York: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents


Custody is the legal arrangement where one parent is awarded primary decision making power over their children, or joint legal custody is extended to both parents. Physical custody refers to the children's physical residence, or whether the children reside with one parent or both parents. Sole physical custody is often granted to one parent, where the children remain with that parent over 50% of the time and spend visits to the other parent as arranged. In New York, the standard policy is to prefer joint custody of children when both parents are fit to make decisions and do not interfere with each other's ability to parent. According  the NY statue Fam.Ct. Act § 651, the agreement must be “in accordance with the best interests of the child”.


Child Support

Child support is a way to ensure children in co-parenting arrangements have the financial resources they need to maintain their quality of life. In New York, both parents are financially responsible for children up to the age of 21. The amount of money paid will depend on the financial circumstances of both parents, such as income and number of dependents. The child support amount is determined by a calculation that suggests the amount the non-custodial parent should pay to the custodial parent. According  the NY statue Fam.Ct. Act § 413b, “court-ordered child support in New York is predetermined by a formula that looks at both parents’ income and the number of children in the household”.


Co-Parenting Expenses

Co-parenting expenses refer to any and all expenses necessary to support the children in a co-parenting arrangement. These expenses include medical and healthcare bills, daycare and educational costs, sports, extracurricular activities, and more. For each expense, the custodial and non-custodial parent will work in accordance with their parenting plan to determine who will be responsible for the payment. This is usually contingent on the financial circumstances of each parent. These expenses should be itemized in a parenting plan, as communicated through both parents.


Parental Rights and Decision-Making

Parental rights and decision-making are two primary tenets of co-parenting. Each parent must recognize and respect their partner's legal rights as a parent. Parents should also work cooperatively to make decisions that will be in the best interest of their child. These decisions may include the child's educational opportunities and healthcare expenses. According to NY Statue Fam.Ct. Act § 651, “New York recognizes the rights of both parents to participate in making decisions concerning their children, including in school and medical decisions”. When both parents are unable to agree on a decision, either party may take the dispute before the court for resolution.


Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legally binding document which outlines the responsibilities, rights, and relationship of the parents. A comprehensive parenting plan will detail items such as child support, visitation arrangements, and available communication methods. A parenting plan gives each party an understanding of their rights and responsibilities and outlines the steps both parents must take to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the children. According to NY Statue Fam.Ct. Act § 651, the “court will use the parent’s parenting plan, either in whole or with modifications, when making final orders”. 


Visitation Rights

Visitation rights are the legal rights a non-custodial parent has to visit their children. Visitation plans should be specified in the parenting plan, detailing a set amount of time that the non-custodial parent is granted access to their children. Generally, this is the right of both biological parents to have access to their children. Ultimately, decisions must be made that give respect and consideration to both parties. According to NY Statue Fam.Ct. Act § 651, “visitation rights mean that the noncustodial parent must be given reasonable access to the child and must be kept informed as to the child’s health, education and welfare”.



When parents are unable to make decisions or arrange visitation plans, mediation is an avenue for resolution. Formal mediation is the process of bringing both parties together with a qualified mediator to discuss and work out the differences. The purpose of mediation is to come up with an agreement that is mutually agreeable and respectful of both parties. It is an out-of-court process that avoids costly and time consuming litigation. Mediation is now a required step in the family court process in New York (Fam.Ct. Act § 651).


The use of co-parenting in New York includes a variety of legal components. Topics such as custody, child support, co-parenting expenses, parental rights and decision-making, parenting plan, visitation rights, and mediation are all heavily weighted when assessing co-parenting arrangements. Ultimately, the law of New York desires a co-parenting situation that is respectful of both parents, in the best interest of the children, and grounded in financial fairness. Recognizing the vast diversity of New York families make it possible to tailor solutions that respect their individual needs and provide a safe and healthy environment.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:



Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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