If there is a final court order on visitation, then the non-custodial parent or the parent who is supposed to receive the visitation can go to the nearest police precinct to have the police facilitate the visitation as per the court order.  If there is no order of protection or anything else preventing the non-custodial parent from contacting the custodial parent, then the non-custodial parent can try to reach out to the custodial parent to see what is the reason for not complying with the current visitation schedule.  If this does not work, then the non-custodial parent can file a violation or contempt petition in court against the party who is not complying with the court order. This will allow the case to go before a judge. Some of the remedies that the complying parent can seek are a fine, imprisonment, or both.

If there is a temporary order of visitation, then the non-custodial parent can reach out to the custodial parent to see what is the reason for not complying with the order provided there is no order of protection preventing such contact. If the non-custodial parent has an attorney, then the non-custodial parent can reach out to the attorney and let the attorney know what is going on regarding the custodial parent’s non-compliance with the order as the attorney will be able to advise on how to proceed with the case.

What if there is no visitation order? If there is no visitation order, then the parent seeking visitation can try to reach out to the custodial parent to see if the parties can reach an agreement without court invention, provided there is no order of protection in place. If this does not work, then the parent seeking visitation should file a visitation petition as soon as possible. That parent should seek legal advice before doing so.           

How does COVID-19 affect all of this? COVID-19 can be a valid reason to refuse visitation, even if they are court-ordered visitation because the child could be exposed to COVID-19 by having the visitation or by commuting to the pickup and drop off locations.  Additionally, the child could be in a high-risk category. During this COVID-19 epidemic, the parties can try to arrange video or electronic visitation, and some of the common forms include Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp.  It is important to note, that right now the courts are only hearing emergency cases such as “child protective intake cases involving remand applications, newly file juvenile delinquency intake cases, emergency family offense petitions, and order to show cause and stipulations on submission.” The court protocols can be found in Judge Lawrence Marks’ Memorandum found here (PDF).

You might want to speak with an attorney to determine if your case falls into one of the above categories and to also get some assistance with your case during this crisis. Jayson Lutzky gives free consultations and can be reached at 718-329-9500, Monday – Friday, 9AM – 4PM. He has been practicing law for over 36 years in the Bronx and can help you with your legal matter.