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Friday, March 14, 2014

Resolving Child Visitation Disputes in NYC

There are perhaps few terms of a divorce or separation with such high potential for contention like child visitation. While the courts generally prefer to have arrangements wherein the parenting time is split 50-50, family law courts also realize that in some cases, this is neither realistic or even in the best interests of the children. 

Brooklyn child visitation attorneys can help parents to mitigate conflict and reach an equitable compromise. Many times, these situations deteriorate because the line of communication between parents is virtually severed.  Particularly in high-conflict cases, arrangements can be made wherein parents have very limited contact with each other. 

Setting a visitation schedule is going to take several factors into account. The first thing to establish is the form of custody that the child will be under.

Per the New York State Unified Court System, there are two primary kinds of custody: joint custody and sole custody. In a joint custody situations, both parents make big decisions regarding the child together. Examples would be decisions regarding a child's education, health and religion. Smaller, everyday decisions in a joint custody situation are made by whichever parent is physically caring for the child at the time. 

In a sole custody situation, only one parent has the right to all major decisions. 

Generally, New York family courts will lean toward a joint custody situation, unless there is evidence of domestic violence or that one parent is unfit or lives out-of-state or is otherwise unable to fill that role. It's important to note that today's courts do not favor either parent, and sole custody is based on what is best for the child. 

With very few exceptions, all parents who were not awarded custody are still entitled to visitation with their children. The courts generally believe that it is in the best for the children to have a relationship with both parents. For this reason, visitation orders are strictly enforced. 

N.Y. FCT Law 1081 outlines visitation rights, which can be claimed by either the non-custodial parent or even a grandparent. 

Depending on the facts of the individual case, however, those visits may be very different from case-to-case. There are many different kinds of visits. There are unsupervised visits, wherein the parent is able to visit with their child without any major restrictions or oversight. Then there are supervised visits. These are ordered in cases where the court has decided the parent can't be alone with the child due to concern about the parent's ability to act properly or where there have been allegations of abuse. Here, the court will choose a person to supervise those visits. That person could be a social worker, or it could be a neutral family member. 

Then there are therapeutic supervised visits. In these circumstances, a mental health professional is the one tapped to supervise the visits, and he or she will work to try to help the parent improve his or her parenting skills during those visits. 

In some cases, the court will order a neutral place of exchange. This is a safe location where a child will go from one parent to another for visitation. Some examples of a neutral location would be a library, police station, school or the mall. 

There are some cases in which one parent refuses to follow the court-ordered visitation schedule. In these cases, your Brooklyn family law attorney can file an enforcement petition. If the court determines a violation has occurred, it can impose a number of penalties and corrective actions. Sanctions might even include removing a child from the custody of the violating parent. 

This is why it's very important to follow the terms of the visitation agreement. If there is some aspect that you feel is unfair or should be modified, your attorney can set up a court hearing to request a change. 

If you need legal advice regarding a Brooklyn child visitation arrangement, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.


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