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Child Custody / Visitation

Custody and Visitation In New York

If you do not live with the other parent of your child, it is very important that you obtain an order from the court granting you custody of the child. Without such an order, the other parent can take the child and leave the state or country. An order granting you custody of the child will be of great assistance in getting the child back should the non-custodial parent remove the child from New York. In New York, both Family Court and Supreme Court have jurisdiction regarding issues of custody. If the parents of the child are not married, they usually go to Family Court for a determination of custody and or visitation. If the parties are married, these issues are usually decided by New York Supreme Court in a divorce action.

There are two aspects of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives the parent the right to make important decisions about the child. The parent with physical custody, also known as the custodial parent, has the right for the child to live with that parent.

One person may have both legal and physical custody. Another option is that both parties share legal custody, but only one has physical custody. Still another option is that the parties share both legal and physical custody; however this option is seldom used by the Court. The Court will usually decide that it’s in the best interest of the child to reside with only one of the parents.

With regard to visitation, the parent who does not have physical custody has the following options:
1. Reasonable visitation rights; and
2. Specified visitation rights, which, for example, may be limited to every other weekend and specified holidays, or Saturdays or Sundays every week plus specific holidays.

The Court usually takes the position that it’s in the best interest of the child to have contact with the non-custodial parent. If it is determined that there are issues of the child’s safety, supervised visitation may be granted by the Court. If an order of visitation is granted the custodial parent may not keep the non-custodial parent from visiting the child, even if the non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support. The issue of visitation and child support are two separate issues.