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New York Child Visitation Modification Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can child visitation be changed?

A. Either parent can petition a New York court for child visitation modification, but they must show a substantial change in circumstances. It is easier if both parents agree and then request the court for a formal change to the visitation schedule. The court wants to see both parents maintain a good relationship with the child.

Q. Who can petition the court for a change in child visitation?

A. Either parent can petition the court for a change in child visitation.

Q. When will a court modify child visitation?

A. If both parents agree to a change in visitation, a New York court will usually approve it unless there is some reason it would not be in the best interests of the child. However, if the other parent disagrees with the requested child visitation modification, then the petitioner must show a substantial change in circumstances that warrant the change. Circumstances a judge might think warrant a change in child custody include

  • Change in parent’s work schedule: For example, if a parent gets a new job that required them to be out of town for days at a time, it makes sense to change the visitation schedule.
  • Relocation. If the custodial parent moves out of the area with the child, almost certainly the structure of the visitation schedule will change due to the distance.
  • Child at risk. If a parent puts a child at risk in any way at all, such as by physically or mentally abusing the child, drinking too much or taking drugs, the court will modify visitation.
  • Remarriage. If either spouse remarries, their schedule, time and obligations may change enough to justify a modification in child visitation
Q. My ex-spouse often won’t let me visit with my child. Can I ask the court to increase the days my child stays with me, since it is so hard to see them?

A. If your child’s other parent is interfering with your visitation privileges, your attorney can file a “Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order.” The court will have a hearing where you can testify about specific times that your child’s other parent interfered with your visitation rights. You will want to keep a good record in preparation for such a court appearance. If the judge finds that the child’s other parent has been violating the visitation order, they can impose various sanctions such as fines and they may also modify the child visitation order.

Q. When will a court suspend child visitation privileges?

A. For a court to suspend child visitation privileges, a court must find that the visits are detrimental to the child’s well-being. The court must find exceptional circumstances in order to suspend visitation, because normally the court encourages the relationship between parent and child. If a child is being physically or mentally abused or undergoing great emotional stress by visiting with the noncustodial parent, the court may discontinue the visits at least until things improve.

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