Visitation rights are often a contentious issue in any divorce where minor children are involved. Often, they cause just as many issues as arguments over child custody, and some people conflate the two issues, even though they are not one in the same. Here are five things you should know about visitation rights if you find yourself in this sort of dispute:
- Custody and visitation are considered separately
- Although the two issues are closely related, child custody and visitation rights are not the same thing. Just because someone has not been given custody, or even partial custody, does not mean they cannot get visitation rights. However, many of the same issues that are considered in custody disputes often are brought up in visitation disputes, and the court is the ultimate arbiter about all issues related to visitation.
- Visitation is awarded based on the best interests of the child
- The standard that is used in both child custody and visitation disputes is what is in the best interests of the child in question. This standard is somewhat vague, and depends on a number of factors, including the physical and emotional needs of a child, the amount of disruption that might be caused by visitation, and the degree to which visitation might promote a child’s emotional and intellectual growth. Based on these considerations, the court can tailor visitation rights to a very specific degree.
- Visitation rights can be legally enforced
- In order to obtain visitation rights, you need to obtain an order of visitation from the Family Court that grants the right to visit your minor children. As a court order, though, an order of visitation has legal weight, and you can bring legal action against your spouse or anyone else who interferes with your right to visit your children. This threat of potential legal penalties helps to protect your ability to see your children, so long as you adhere to whatever is laid out in your order of visitation.
- People other than parents may have visitation rights
- While it is somewhat uncommon, people other than a child’s parents may seek visitation rights with a child. Typically, this includes a child’s grandparents who want to be able to see their grandchild, in spite of the trouble caused by a divorce. It may, however, also include other extended family members, or even people who are not blood-related to the child, depending on what the court deems to be appropriate.
- Visitation orders can be modified
- Just because a visitation order has been issued does not mean that is the end of the discussion. You can apply to have a visitation order modified further down the line, if circumstances have changed enough to warrant it. However, you need to show evidence that demonstrates a logical rationale for altering the visitation order. That is why you should hire legal counsel for dealing with visitation issues, since they can help you navigate the legal landscape.
If you have questions regarding visitation or other aspects of family law, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York matrimonial lawyer, who is experienced in handling family law cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute related to the equitable distribution of property, child custody, child support, or any other family law issue, contact the Suffolk County family court lawyers at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.