Between married parents, issues of child custody are often litigated as part of a divorce in the New York Supreme Court. There’s been a trend by the matrimonial courts to try to ‘dial down’ the litigation aspects of resolving custody and amp up negotiations, by mandating that each parent complete a proposed parenting plan, containing their proposal for decision-making about their children and for the time that each parent spends with the child, with the goal being that parenting plans will be exchanged by the parties, and there will be enough common ground for the parties’ to work out an agreement, rather than litigate.
Absent extraordinary circumstances, parenting plans must be submitted by each parent before an attorney for the child and/or a child custody evaluator is appointed—which does not happen in every matrimonial proceeding. In Family Court there is no requirement to submit parenting plans and attorneys for the children are more frequently appointed at the beginning of a custody case. Also absent extraordinary factors, Family Court referees and judges may hold several conferences in custody proceedings, encouraging settlement over litigation.
Ms. Schaffer has litigated and often settled many complex custody matters, including interstate and international relocation disputes, in both Family Court and Supreme Court.