Child Custody and Visitation Modification

In New York, the court can order custody and visitation until the child is 18 years old.

Custody grants responsibility of a child's care and up-bringing to one parent (“sole custody”), or to both parents (“joint legal or physical custody”) or to someone else.

Visitation is ordered by the court when a parent has sole custody (“custodial parent”) so the other parent (“non-custodial parent”) may visit with the children.

Either parent may petition the court for a modification (change) of a custody or visitation order. The parent must establish that a “substantial change of circumstances” occurred since the date of the original order. To determine if a modification of the ordered arrangement will be in the child’s best interests, the court must hold a hearing. Although custody and visitation are separate matters, the court usually decides both of them at the same hearing.

There is a presumption that the best interests of the child’s are served by having a continued relationship with both parents after separation and divorce. The court permits the non-custodial parent to visit and spend time with the children unless a good reason justifies denying visitation. Usually, parents agree on a visitation schedule between them. When they cannot agree, the court will hold a hearing to determine the visitation schedule based on what is most beneficial for the child.

Experienced help is available

If you feel that your custody and visitation legal arrangements need to be changed or if you are faced with proceedings for such, Matrimonial lawyer Ingrid Gherman has the experience to provide you with the legal assistance you require. Over the last 30 years, she has handled countless court proceedings on these issues for clients throughout New York City and surrounding counties. Set up a consultation with Ingrid by calling (212) 941-0767 or send the convenient on-line form.

The court will grant modification an order, where:

  • There is a substantial change in the parent or the child’s circumstances since the original custody order, such as a change in financial status, relocation, or a change in the child’s health
  • A modification of the original order is requested by a child at least 12 years old
  • A child is abandoned, abused or neglected.

Enforcement of Orders

If the court grants a parent certain custody or visitation rights and the other parent fails to comply, the complaining parent can file a petition stating the other parent violated the order and requesting the court to take action against that parent. After holding a hearing, the court may change the order, and impose sanctions on the parent who failed to comply with it.

When a custodial parent interferes with the non-custodial parent’ visitation, a “Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order”, should be filed. The non-custodial parent must testify at a hearing and give details of specific occurrences, the number of times and specific time period that the custodial parent interfered with visitation. If there are sufficient facts to find a violation, the judge can change the visitation order and impose sanctions or a fine on the custodial parent.

Child Support

Courts view child support and visitation as separate issues. If a custodial parent interferes with visitation, the non-custodial parent should not stop paying child support. Failure to pay child support can result in contempt of court, fines and jail time. Withholding child support, of course, also harms the children as a result of being deprived of the financial support they are legally entitled to.

A family law attorney you can turn to

Proceedings to modify or enforce court orders involving custody and visitation arrangements can be very complicated and the results can bring heavy consequences. If you or your (ex) spouse resides in NYC or the surrounding area, call on family law and divorce attorney Ingrid Gherman for help. Her experience in and legal knowledge about these matters and the processes involved can make the legal difference for your case. Call Ingrid’s law office to arrange a consultation (212) 941-0767 or use the on-line inquiry form.