New York Visitation Rights

Parents involved in child custody proceedings must deal with many complicated issues. Part of the custody agreement includes visitation, which allows a child to spend quality time with the non-custodial parent.

Order of Visitation in New York

If parents agree, they can work together to arrive at a visitation schedule. Otherwise, a parent wanting child visitation may file a petition in family court against the parent of the child who has custody. Visitation and custody matters are often heard together during the same hearing, but a visitation matter can also be filed separately. Relatives such as siblings and grandparents may also file a petition requesting an order of visitation. The court's determination is based on the best interests of the child; if the court finds that the requirement is satisfied, then visitation will be granted.

An order of custody is always subject to an order of visitation for the non-custodial parent (unless visitation is denied for a stated reason). Courts generally impose a specific visitation schedule; the custodial parent cannot interfere with the non-custodial parent's visitation unless the court specifies terms of the visitation. If the custodial parent withholds visitation, he or she may be held in contempt of the court. If this occurs consistently, the court could decide to alter custody.

New York Visitation Rights at a Glance

It's critical to know the letter of the law in any statute, but it's equally valuable to have an explanation of the law in simple, basic terms. See the chart below for a brief overview of New York's visitation rights relating to types of visitation and for a link to the relevant statutes.

Statutes

Types of Visitation

  • Unsupervised visits: The parent can visit the child without any other person present.
  • Supervised visits: A person (someone from a local social services department) must be present during the visit because the court has determined that the parent could be harmful to the child.
  • Therapeutic supervised visits: A mental health professional monitors the visit because of concern regarding the parenting skills of the visiting parent.

Denial of visitation:

  • A parent is entitled to visitation, unless the court determines that it's not in the best interests of the child to have visits. For example, if the parent committed an offense such as the murder of the child's parent or relative or child abuse.
  • If the parent refuses to visit the child, the court can't force visitation. However, that parent's visitation might be modified as a result.

Monitored Transfer and Mutual Exchange

If the court determines that the transfer of the child from one parent to the other would be physically and/or emotionally damaging to the child (due to domestic violence, for example) then the court can order that the transfer take place in the presence of neutral third party or in a designated safe location.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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