Child visitation allows the parent who does not reside with the children an opportunity to see them on a regular basis. When two former spouses have an amicable post-divorce relationship, they can work together to come up with a visitation schedule that works for everyone involved while remaining in the best interests of the children.

Sometimes, however, a divorce is contentious and leaves both parties with no desire to cooperate or be reasonable with one another. They may even attempt to use the children to punish one another. In instances like these, the court will usually step in and decide the type of visitation that should apply.

Court-ordered visitation

Family court judges create visitation schedules that they feel to be in the best interests of the child. School-age children usually visit their non-custodial parent every other weekend, sometimes staying overnight, and both parents alternate holidays. During summer vacation, the non-custodial parent may enjoy extended visits that last over a week. While this is the recommended schedule, judges may alter it in the name of practicality. For example, if the parents live far apart it may not be possible for the non-custodial parent to see the children during the week.

Limited visitation

In some instances, the court may limit visitation rights for a valid reason, such as a previous history of domestic violence or parental neglect, or the non-custodial parent’s living arrangements are potentially unsafe for the children. Examples of limited visitation include:

  • Supervised visits: If the court believes that a parent may endanger their children or do something inappropriate in their presence, then a supervisor may be appointed to be present during all visits. These parents will not be permitted to be alone with the children.
  • Therapeutic supervised visits: If the non-custodial parent has demonstrated a lack of parenting skills or evidenced a history of mental instability, then a mental health professional may have to be present to supervise the visitation and provide him or her with the support needed to improve their parenting skills.
  • Supervised exchanges: If the parents are in a state of high conflict or one is afraid of the other, then supervised exchanges allow the children to move between both parents in a monitored setting, which minimizes the risk of them being exposed to an outburst or other emotionally damaging experience. Sometimes the exchange will take place in a neutral and public location like a school, mall or even police precinct to heighten safety levels.

In extreme cases the court will deny visitation to the non-custodial parent. This usually happens when there is evidence that he or she is a danger to their children.

Parents who want to put together and formalize their own visitation schedule can do so with assistance from a New York family law attorney. Willingness to work with a legal professional as well as each other will minimize the risk of court intervention ever being necessary. Jayson Lutzky has over 33 years of legal experience and regularly handles family court cases. He has hammered out many child visitation agreements and offers free in-person consultations at his Bronx, NY office. Call 718-514-6619 to set up an appointment or visit for more information.