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Child Visitation

Child visitation is one of the most emotional byproducts of divorce or separation, as it involves two basic human needs:

  • Children want and deserve to have their parents in their lives
  • Parents have the emotional need and constitutional right to see their children

When one parent has primary custody of the children, the other is usually awarded visitation, or parenting time. This arrangement allows him or her to see the children on a regular and consistent basis, so that the parent-child bond remains intact.

In rare circumstances a parent may be denied visitation privileges if there is reason to believe that they present a threat to the children’s physical or emotional well-being, but this is a relatively rare occurrence.

What does a visitation schedule look like?

In New York there is no mandated visitation schedule, so the potential arrangements are endless. If the parents have a relatively amicable post-separation relationship, then they can agree on a visitation schedule that works for them while remaining in the best interests of the children. If not, then the courts will generally order reasonable visitation to the noncustodial parent.

When creating a visitation schedule, the courts take several factors into account. School-age children typically visit their noncustodial parent every other weekend. Depending on their age and related circumstances, these may or may not be overnight visits. Weekday visits tend to depend on the distance between the parents’ homes. School holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, are usually alternated, and during the summer months, noncustodial parents may enjoy longer visits.

Common visitation problems

When a divorce or separation is less than amicable, visitation problems are known to occur. A common issue is when one parent fails or refuses to comply with the parenting time schedule. He or she may try to obstruct visitation by telling the other parent that the children, “don’t want to see you.”

If this happens routinely and parental alienation seems to be the goal of the obstructor, the noncustodial parent can apply for a court order compelling their former spouse to company with the visitation schedule. The custodial parent can even be sanctioned in the following ways:

  • Fines
  • Reduction in spousal support
  • Jail time and even loss of custody

The latter consequences are usually imposed as a last resort, as their impact on the children can be detrimental.

If you are undergoing a divorce or separation, a New York child visitation attorney can help you apply for a visitation schedule that meets the needs of everyone involved and protect your interests (and those of the children) if any complications arise. As a parent, you deserve a rich and rewarding relationship with your children, and experienced legal representation can preserve that right.