Though any divorce can be contentious, perhaps the most questions, anxieties, and battles swirl around the issue of child custody. At the Meyers Law Group, we understand how close this issue is to your heart, and we are committed to helping families find the best possible solutions. We also want to take away as much uncertainty and apprehension as possible. In order to accomplish this success and ease, it is important to fully understand the issues you face. Here we answer some common questions about
child custody and visitation.
Does the noncustodial parent usually get visitation rights? Usually, yes. When one parent is awarded sole custody of a child, a court will usually give the other parent
visitation, but only if this will not harm the child. If there is a history of domestic abuse or abandonment, then the noncustodial parent might not receive any visitation, even supervised visitation. A court often wants the child to maintain relationships with both parents, however, and when sole custody is awarded to one parent, a visitation schedule is typically given to the other.
What can a noncustodial parent do if the custodial parent interferes with visitation rights? A noncustodial parent can file a petition, called the "Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order". This will let the court know that your visitation rights are being violated. You will need to give testimony about the instances of interference. There will be a hearing to look at all the evidence, then a court can modify the visitation order and/or penalize the custodial parent, such as with a fine.
Here is what you can NEVER do. Just because a custodial parent is breaking a court order does not mean that you can go ahead and break a court order too. Do not stop paying child support payments. Noncustodial parents have legal recourse. File a petition with the court; do not deprive your child of his or her rights. If you stop paying support, then you could lose visitation, and even be sent to jail for being in contempt of court.
Can a custodial parent interfere with visitation if the noncustodial parent does not meet child support payments? Again, just because one parent disobeys a court order does not mean that you can as well. The only reason visitation can be stopped is if it is harmful to the child, and a court must be the party to stop visitation. If a court has deemed that the noncustodial parent should have visitation, then this has been viewed as in the child's best interests. Do not deprive your child of his or her rights. If a child is being deprived of support payments, then you can file a petition with the court, a "Petition for Violation of Support Order". In this way, you can enforce the court order, and the noncustodial parent might be fined or even jailed for being in contempt of court.
Can a court suspend visitation rights? Only under "exceptional circumstances". This means proving that visitation can inflict bodily or emotional harm on the child.
Is it possible to change visitation? Child custody orders can be modified when one or both parents file a petition for this. There will be another hearing about custody, and then a judge will again have to determine what is in the child's best interests. To justify a
modified court order, there must have been a significant change in circumstances, such as the custodial parent moving away, or a parent remarrying, etc.
If you have any further questions about visitation or your divorce, please do not hesitate to contact a Long Island divorce lawyer from our firm. Get experience and dedication on your side today!