The non-custodial parent, who does not have physical custody of the children, generally gets visitation rights unless there is a valid reason why he or she should not. Commonly we refer to visitation as "parenting time," especially in cases of joint custody.
Visitation refers to the time that the non-custodial parent spends with the child, which may include weekends, mid-week time, a summer schedule, a holiday schedule and school vacations. Courts favor frequent and meaningful contact with non-custodial parents for the children of couples who are separated, divorced, or have never been married. Visitation schedules can be worked out which will allow the non-custodial parent to remain in contact with his or her child. Visitation rights are only denied if it is considered to be harmful to the interests of the child. In cases where there is a history of domestic abuse by a non-custodial parent, only supervised visits with a child or children may be allowed by the courts.
Once the issue of parenting time is resolved, it becomes rather difficult and problematic to modify the schedule without the consent of both parties as there must be substantial change in circumstances and the requested change must be in the best interests of the child. Thus, negotiation of a schedule is paramount in making sure you achieve your ultimate goal. This is where the experience and knowledge of your attorney is of utmost value. We have negotiated and drafted thousands of parenting schedules. We have also handled thousands of cases where a parent seeks to alter, modify or challenge a poorly drafted or outdated parenting schedule.
It should also be noted, a grandparent, sister, brother, stepsister, or stepbrother may also seek visitation rights though the courts in New York if they have standing, wherein they meet the statutory requirements needed to request such relief. During settlement discussions or divorce proceedings, the terms of child custody and visitation are addressed. This is another situation in which is it imperative to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. Expertise is needed to navigate these waters.
Ultimately, it is always best if parents can work together to decide upon a custody and visitation arrangement that is mutually agreeable. If the parties cannot agree, the Court will decide the terms of custody and visitation for them.
In the context of Family Court, custody and visitation matters may be assigned to a Family Court Referee, or a Family Court Judge. Once assigned to a particular part, you will need a skilled attorney with experience to assure the best possible result. We have been handling custody and visitation cases in Family Court since 2000, and over the years have successfully handled thousands of cases.