Visitation Rights

Child Custody Lawyers Buffalo NY

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For the most part, courts in New York operate on the belief that a child will benefit from having contact with both parents. This is the principle underlying all decisions about visitation rights. However, in some cases the court will grant physical custody to only one parent. When this happens, the parent not granted custody, also known as the non-custodial parent, will have the right to visit his or her child. Most of the time, the court will issue an order setting up the visitation schedule and rules, if applicable.

Who Can Get Visitation?

Usually, only the parent will asking for visitation rights. However, grandparents and siblings can ask for visitation rights, too. As with all other decisions involving children, the court considers the interests of the child, not the interests of the party requesting visitation rights.

How Do Courts Decide Visitation Schedules?

Ideally, the parents will agree on a visitation schedule. When this isn’t possible, a judge will decide the visitation schedule (and any rules, if needed). The process in which courts decide visitation is very similar to the process for determining custody. In fact, when the court issues a custody order, it also issues a visitation order.

The court will have a hearing and gather evidence to make its visitation decision. The overarching principle guiding the court’s thought process will be doing whatever is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court will take testimony from the parents, people who know the child (such as teachers), and professionals like social workers, psychologists, and healthcare workers.

In the past, visitation was usually limited: a non-custodial parent might see the child every other weekend and on alternating holidays. The courts now are trying harder to allow both parents to spend time with their child. Courts may allow the non-custodial parents spend evenings or afternoons with the child, pick up the child from school, or go on summer vacation with the child.

Except in very unique circumstances, a court will usually grant at least some visitation rights to the noncustodial parent. Even in instances where the non-custodial parent poses some threat to the child’s emotional or physical well-being, the court will still usually grant visitation, albeit under close supervision.

Supervised visitation works only in cases where the court concludes that, despite risks, visitation would be in the child’s best interest. Any history of domestic abuse, child abuse, mental illness, or substance abuse wouldn’t immediately disqualify a parent from visitation rights, though visitation would likely require supervision in any case involving those issues.

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How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

The exact risk the non-custodial parent presents to the child and others will determine the nature of the supervision. In situations where the non-custodial parent isn’t considered a significant risk, the third party supervising the visit can be court-approved neighbors or friends. In more extreme cases where the non-custodial parent is dangerous to the child, the supervising third party may be a professional with the physical ability to protect the child if necessary.

 Enforcing Visitation

Custodial parents don’t always cooperate with the non-custodial parents, and allow them to visit the child according to the specifications of the court order. Should this occur, the non-custodial parent can ask the court to issue a visitation enforcement order.

In situations where the non-custodial parent is paying child support and the custodial parent is not allowing visitation, the non-custodial parent cannot withhold child support payments. The requirement to make child support payments or allow visitation are two separate legal issues. Only a court order can alter the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations.

In some situations, however, the court may temporarily suspend the non-custodial parent’s child support requirements if the custodial parent is interfering with visitation. This decision, though, isn’t up to either parent. Additionally, if the custodial parent continues to interfere with visitation, the court may modify its original child custody order.

Contact our Child Custody Lawyers with Questions on Your Visitation Rights

If you have an issue with your child’s visitation schedule or want to gain visitation rights, you should seek professional legal help. Our Child Custody Lawyers in Buffalo NY are more than happy to discuss your case and see what legal options you may have available. All you need to do is contact us through our website or call us at the number above.

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