No. Many times parents can come to an agreement without going to court. They often use mediation (mee-dee-A-shun). Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where you and the other parent work with a neutral mediator to create your own parenting plan. However, mediation is not a good idea when there has been domestic violence. If you are interested in mediation, and don’t want a court order, contact LIFT at 212-343-1122 to ask for the name of a center near you that offers free mediation.
Sometimes the Court will send you to the Family Court Custody/Visitation Mediation Program after you start your case. If that happens, the mediator can help you work out a parenting plan. If you reach an agreement, it can be sent back to the court. If the judge or referee agrees, it can become a court order.