New York Child Visitation Frequently Asked Questions
A. Unless it is in opposition to the best interests of the child, a New York court will grant a noncustodial parent visitation rights with a structured visitation schedule. In some cases, visitation rights may be granted to other family members with whom the child has a close relationship such as grandparents. Often, when family members seek visitation rights, it is because the custodial parent does not want them to see the child. If this is the case, there is a legal presumption that the custodial parent’s decision is in best interests of the child. However, the relative seeking visitation may be able to rebut the presumption and convince the court that visitation should be granted.Q. Can a New York court stop me from seeing my child?
A. Courts want the child to have a strong relationship with each parent if the parents are not together. However, if visitation would harm the child, the court can deny child visitation rights. For example, if a parent is abusive or neglectful towards the child or is abusing drugs, visitation rights may be denied.Q. What is supervised visitation?
A. A court may order supervised visitation when it believes some contact with the noncustodial parent would be beneficial to the child, but there is an element of risk, perhaps due to drug abuse or a history of domestic violence. A New York court may order supervised child visitation where visitation is conducted in a safe, neutral location and is overseen by a therapist or other trained personnel.Q. My spouse is not paying court-ordered child support. Can I stop them from visiting our child?
A. No. You cannot stop your spouse from seeing the child if there is court-ordered visitation even if they are behind in child support. Instead, talk with your lawyer about filing a “Petition for Violation of a Support Order.”Q. My spouse is not letting me have my visitation. Can I stop paying child support?
A. No, not if your spouse has visitation ordered by a court. If you cannot work out your differences with the custodial parent, ask your attorney about filing a “Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order.” If you just stop paying, you can be found in contempt of court. Not only will you be ordered to pay, but you could face jail time under the laws of New York. If your ex keeps denying your child visitation rights, you may also want to consider petitioning the court for a change in custody.Q. Can my child refuse visitation?
A. No, a child may not just refuse court-ordered visitation. Of course, the court is always willing to deny visitation if it would be harmful to the child as in a case where the noncustodial parent is abusive. But in some cases the child just doesn’t want to visit with the noncustodial parent or doesn’t want to visit as often as was ordered by the court. In that case, the custodial parent’s attorney can move the court for a change in the visitation schedule, but the court order may not just be ignored. Should a change in visitation schedule be brought before the court, the older and more mature the child is, the more weight the court will give to their desires.Q: My ex-spouse has custody of our child and lives in another state where we got our divorce. I live in New York. Can I enforce my child visitation rights in a New York court?
A: No, you will have to go back to the other state.Q: My ex-spouse has custody of our child. My ex-spouse and I were divorced in New York, and then my ex moved to a different state with our child. Can I enforce my visitation rights in a New York court?
A: You can file your petition in New York, but it is possible that the New York court will determine the state where your spouse presently lives has jurisdiction, in which case the action will have to be moved there. This will depend on various factors including how long your ex and your child have lived in the other state.