Parenting Time Bullet Guide (Part 4): Parent Education and Primary Caretaker Standards

FamilyOutside-200x300Welcome to another segment in our series of Parenting Time bullet point guides. Over the last few months, I’ve been creating a series of helpful curated guides, taking information from elsewhere in this blog, and placing it in a more consumable format. These bullet-point guidance documents are intended to offer quick answers to questions you might have about aspects of family law.

In this series, we’re looking at parenting time and visitation – a concept that has some different nuances in family law. Any case which involves the care of a child is often exceedingly difficult for any parent to deal with. This is why it’s so important to be aware of your rights, and the kind of decisions you’ll need to make in these situations.

This part of our parenting time bullet guide will cover the topics of parent education and defining the “primary caretaker” in a family law cases.

How Does Parental Education Affect Parenting Time?

The courts consider a range of factors when determining how to address custody and parenting time issues after the end of a relationship, or a marriage. The most important consideration for any court will be the best interests of the child. New York courts will always ensure the decisions they make will protect the health and wellbeing of the child as much as possible. Sometimes, to give the child the right quality of care, a court may order parental education for the caretakers involved.

  • Parental education experiences can differ depending on the needs of the child and the parents involved. The idea behind these classes is to assist parents separating from each other to understand the way their divorce might impact the children. Through the course of the educational experience, parents are given the skills required to provide the appropriate care for a child, either as a custodial parent, or one with visitation rights.
  • Parental education is something that parents can choose to do on their own. However, the courts of New York can also choose to order parental education following cases of separation, divorce, and child custody. Crucially, parties usually do not need to attend a parental education class with the other parent present, so both parents can get their education separately.
  • Parents in a parental education class may also ask to be moved out of a class if they are dealing with circumstances which might make it impossible or inappropriate to attend the lessons in question.
  • Even if both parents in a custody and visitation case are asked to attend an education class, this doesn’t mean they need to take the same class. Parental education can cover all kinds of topics, including how to resolve disputes, how to assist children with moving through divorce, and how divorce can influence the developmental stages of a child’s life.
  • Parental education classes will often provide help to parents on dealing with the emotional impact that a divorce or the end of a relationship can have on the child. These lessons can also provide guidance on dealing with responses from children (Such as negative behavior), and guidance on how to manage co-parenting arrangements.
  • Many parents consider these educational classes to be extremely helpful, particular in helping with scheduling and managing shared parenting plans, visitation times, and custody agreements according to the best interests of the child. Parent education programs can also help to improve the health of the overall family dynamic, for the benefit of the child.
  • If the court requires you to attend parental education classes, you will be given the details required to sign up. You may also be given information on how to contact the administrators of the class if you have any issues.

What is the Primary Caretaker Standard?

In an ideal environment, parents seeking a divorce would come to an agreement about visitation times, child custody arrangements and more in a mediated environment or through negotiations. However, it’s often not this simple for many families. In some cases, the New York courts may need to step in and determine who should be given physical custody of the child, and who should be able to have visitation.

  • The courts consider a range of factors when determining who should have custody of a child as a “primary caretaker”. The primary caretaker of the child or children will be the person who houses the child most of the time. The other parent will often receive visitation or parenting time options.
  • In a child custody case, the family or supreme courts of New York will often show a preference towards the parent who can demonstrate they were already the primary caretaker of the child during the relationship or marriage. This is the “primary caretaker” standard.
  • The primary caretaker standard is one of many different aspects, in family law decisions to decide custody. The increased focus on this standard emerged when psychologists began to underline how important the bond is between a child and their primary caretaker. The bond between these two people is considered to be vital to the child’s successful development into adulthood. Often for babies and very young children the primary caretakes standard takes prominence.
  • The courts will determine the primary caretaker for a child by looking at how the duties of parenthood have been divided between both parents during the child’s life up until the point of the court case. This often involves considering activities like purchasing clothes for the child, preparing meals, grooming, and bathing the child, teaching the child, and participating in leisure activities.

If you have questions about the topics raised above, you can either browse through this website for more guidance or reach out for an initial free consultation. Your initial consultation, up to the first 30 minutes is free, can be scheduled via our online form or over the phone at 516-333-6555.

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