Early Law Group P.C.

Child Custody and Visitation Matters in New York

How Does a Court Decide Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child in New York?

In some circumstances, the parents are able to reach a custody agreement on their own without the court intervening too much. In other cases where the parents cannot agree about custody, the judge will have the ultimate say on the custody provisions. 


Many factors are taken into account when a court decides what custody arrangement should be put into place. First and foremost, the court always keeps the child’s best interest in mind when making this crucial decision. The court will consider each parent’s lifestyle, stability, and ability to care for the child. For example, the judge will take into consideration if a parent drinks excessively and uses drugs, whether there is domestic violence in the home, whether a parent has a sanitary and stable home, and how much time each parent spends with the child. 

Visitation Matters in New York

Visitation refers to the time that non-custodial parents spend with their children. It means that even though the child lives with one parent, the child may still get to spend time with the other parent. 


In some cases, a child’s parents may come to an agreement on a specific visitation schedule on their own. However, if the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the judge will order specific days and times for each parent. The judge may decidethat the non-custodial parent gets the child every other weekend, specific days of the week, during school recesses, and/or on certain holidays.

Can Child Custody or Visitation be Changed?

Either parent can file a petition to modifychild custody or visitation. However, that parent must prove that there is a significant change of circumstances since the original order was issued. The court will then hold a hearing to determine if the change is in fact in the child’s best interests. A temporary or final orderof change can be issued at this point.


While the courts’main focus is to foster stability for a child during custody arrangements, a judge will not change the child’s primary residence unless there has been a significant reason to do so.

What Happens If One Side Does Not Follow the Custody or Visitation Order?

If a court order gives certain custody or visitation rights to a party and the other party fails to comply with the order, the complaining party may file a petition in Family Court to enforce the terms of child custody and/or visits.The court will then hold a hearing and the judge may decide to change the order and/or impose sanctions on the party who failed to follow the order.In serious circumstances that involve the noncustodial parent returning the child to the custodial parent, they may contact the police for assistance.


On the other hand, if the noncustodial parent refuses to visit the child, the court cannot force him/her to visit. Instead, that parent’s visitation may be limited and will not be increased until they visit the child on a moreconsistent basis.


If the noncustodial parent does not pay child support, you cannot stop their visitation rights to see the child. Instead, you can file a child support violation petition to require payment. 

Hire a Family Law Attorney to Battle Your Child Custody Case for You

There is no question that child custody and visitation rights are complex matters. There are often many gray areas during these issues leading to problems arising throughout the legal process. That’s why it’s crucial to have legal counsel to assist and examine the specifics of your child custody case with a fine-tooth comb.

New York family law attorney, Latonia Early-Hubelbank, Esq. at Early Family Law is highly experienced in this area of the law. She knows the ins and outs of child custody and visitation matters in New York and will help make sure things are done fairly throughout your custody case. Give Early Family Law a call at (516) 992-3440 to speak to Latonia about your specific situation.