Divorce and Family Law Practice Areas

Understanding Child Visitation Modifications in New York

Establishing a child visitation arrangement is only the first step in what can be a long and confusing process. As time passes, both the needs and abilities of parents and children change. It is not uncommon for visitation schedules to be modified based on your family’s evolving needs. Many parents believe that the easiest way to modify a visitation schedule is simply to work it out internally between each other. However, this approach is not advisable because without a court-ordered, written child visitation arrangement, enforcement becomes exceedingly difficult should the parents ever disagree about its provisions.

Visitation agreements are always constructed so that the best interests of the child are of primary concern. The first step in attempting to modify a visitation schedule is to petition the court asking for a modification. The court usually requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that prevents one or both parents from complying with the current arrangement. There are several different types of situations that may necessitate a visitation modification. Common reasons include relocation, remarriage, and a change in work schedules or the child’s own preferences if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity.

Disagreements about potential visitation modifications can be handled through mediation or in court. During mediation, a neutral third party works with both the parents and children to discuss the issues and come to a practical and satisfying resolution. In some cases, mediation is not feasible and the court will step in to determine the best interests of the child and implement a plan.

It is a common misconception that the custodial parent can withhold visitation privileges if the non-custodial parent refuses to pay child support. This is not the case. Neither parent is allowed to interfere with the other parent’s right to adequate visitation time. If visitation becomes dangerous due to things such as child abuse or neglect or drug or alcohol abuse, you may petition the court for an emergency modification that is designed to keep the child safe.

Under New York law, grandparents are also entitled to adequate visitation time and may petition the court if visitation is denied or restricted. The court will evaluate the grandparent’s relationship with both the child and parent(s) to determine if court-ordered visitation is in the best interests of the child.

It is important to consult an experienced visitation attorney to discuss your options and ensure that your case is handled efficiently and skillfully. The DeRoberts Law Firm has been helping families with child visitation modifications for more than 20 years and is committed to helping you through each step of the process.

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