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How do parents in New York ask for visitation rights?

Courts in New York, like anywhere else in the country, want a child to have an enduring relationship with both parents, even after divorce. If a parent has sole custody, then the court will allow visitation rights for the other parent who does not have child custody. That parent is allowed to spend adequate time with the child and visitation rights cannot be denied unless the court finds a good reason to do so.

Although child custody and a visitation hearing are two separate things, the issues are really decided simultaneously. A petition for visitation can be filed separately and a New York court will order visitation only if it determines visitation is in the best interest of the child. Visitation can also be referred to as parenting time. Besides the child's parents, siblings and grandparents can also ask for visitation rights. A request for visitation rights is not automatically granted by the court. The court will review the request and make a judgement. Termination of parental rights to a child also ends visitation rights.

Normally, parents are expected to devise a fair and acceptable visitation plan. However, if parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, then the judge will conduct a hearing. In cases of domestic violence and abuse, a parent is usually denied visitation rights.

If a visitation plan is in place and parents wish to change it, then the parents may approach the state Custody/ Visitation Modification DIY Program to file an appeal to the court to change the order. Parents and relatives are the witnesses during a visitation hearing. Sometimes, a judge may appoint a caseworker and ask that individual to gather and report information about the parent who is seeking visitation rights.

Source: NYCourts.Gov, "Visitation," Nov. 10, 2014

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