NYC Child Visitation Lawyers
Having a child is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of a person’s life. When two parents have to split up, though, that child often gets stuck in the middle. Questions arise concerning visitation and how often each parent will get to see the child. If you’re going through a divorce or you’re separating from your child’s parent, consider speaking with a NYC visitation attorney to learn about your options. This is a difficult time, but getting some help with the process can ease the changes a little bit.
The first step to working out a visitation schedule is determining who will have custody of the child. Courts believe that, whenever possible, it’s in the best interest of the child to have both parents in his or her life. If it can be agreed to and if it’s safe for the child, the parents will share custody, or custody will alternate from one parent to the other. If this isn’t possible, one parent will have custody of the child. This is a delicate part of the separation process, and one that you will want an experienced lawyer to guide you through.
The Child’s Best Interest
When it comes to choosing custody, which will then influence visitation, the child’s best interest is the most important consideration. If one parent is much more capable of caring and providing for the child than the other parent, it’s likely that they will receive full custody, which means they’ll be spending the most time with the child.
The idea of “best interest” takes a lot of factors into consideration:
• Area school system
• Home life
• Stability and routine
It’s possible that a Guardian Ad Litem will be sent to both homes in order to investigate the conditions and decide if the child would be better off in one home over the other.
If both parents are given custody, then there is no need for a visitation schedule – the idea is that both parents will be able to coordinate in order to raise their child, and therefore can work out when each parent will spend time with the child.
If shared custody isn’t possible, then one parent will have more time with the child, meaning a visitation schedule will have to be drafted for the other parent. Both parents are responsible for sticking to this visitation schedule – the parent with custody must make the child available during those times, and the non-custodial parent has to commit to showing up during the scheduled times. Should the court feel that the child is not entirely safe in the care of the non-custodial parent, they may require supervised visitation.
Not Following the Visitation Order
Once a visitation schedule has been worked out, the court will go over it and approve it, making it a legally-binding agreement between both parents. If one or both parents do not follow the agreement, they will be in contempt of the court. If multiple violations occur, the parent could even face jail time.
That said, though, it is important that both parents have enough flexibility to deal with last-minute changes. Things like extra work hours, sickness and vacations may alter the visitation schedule. Working these issues out peacefully and sticking to the normal schedule the rest of the time doesn’t mean that one parent is in contempt – it’s simply what happens during the course of life.
Unfortunately, it does happen that some parents opt to use their child in order to make more of a problem with the other parent. When you deny the non-custodial parent the visitation that you and the court agreed to, a contempt of court will likely be filed. The only way you can legally deny visitation after an agreement has been reached is with a court order.
If one parent feels that the child is unsafe during their non-supervised time with the other parent, they may want to alter the visitation schedule, which will require going back to court to have it officially changed. It is illegal to take matters into your own hands and deny the other parent the right to see their child.
Additionally, if there are changes to either parent’s schedule that affect visitation, it’s in everyone’s best interest to go to court to have the agreement officially changed. It’s tempting to alter the schedule on your own, especially if you’re getting along with the other parent, but it’s always best to have the court involved. While you are in charge of your child, the court is in charge of visitation and custody – should you need their help in the future, but you didn’t follow the guidelines of creating a visitation schedule, you won’t be in the best position.