For New York couples who have ended their marriage, child custody and visitation will be one of the most pressing issues they will face. To add to the concern is if there are others such as grandparents who also believe they should have visitation rights. Understanding how visitation is determined and what factors are important is imperative before the case. The first step to this is understanding how the law assesses these matters.

It is always preferable for the parents to be amicable and come to an agreement regarding visitation without the need for court intervention. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and it is necessary to file a petition in family court. Regarding grandparents’ rights or the rights of other family members, it is allowable for these individuals to file for visitation. The focus will be on the best interests of the child and that will take precedence over the desires of anyone else. When there is a custody order, there will also be a visitation order unless there is a reason or reasons not to grant visitation. The custodial parent must allow the noncustodial parent to have visitation rights. Failure to allow visitation could result in a contempt charge.

There are three kinds of visitation: unsupervised visits; supervised visits; and therapeutic supervised visits. With unsupervised visits, the child will visit the parent and no one else need be present. Supervised visits must have a person from social services to be present due to potential harm to the child. Therapeutic supervised visits must have a mental health professional monitor it. There can also be a denial of visitation. The court will decide if the visitation rights are not in the child’s best interests. There can be a litany of reasons for this such as violence from one parent to the other. The child can refuse visitation and cannot be forced to take part. If that happens, the visitation might need modification.

Although it is generally perceived to be better for the child to have visitation rights with the noncustodial parent or others who are important in the child’s life, it is not a guarantee. Understanding how the law handles parents maintaining a relationship with children is a fundamental factor in custody and visitation cases. A law firm that handles family law cases can provide representation to either the custodial or noncustodial parent and help with a case.