A non-custodial parent is entitled to visitation with a child,unless the court determines that it is not in the best interests of the child. If the parents are unable or unwilling to agree on a visitation schedule, the parent seeking to establish visitation can file a petition in court against the custodial parent to get visitation rights enforced by a judge. The courts recognize that there is nothing more critical for supporting the growth and development of a child than quality time together. If one parent is denying the right of the other to see the child, or not giving enough time with the child, then in most cases, visitation will be enforced by court order. A visitation rights order court order legally allocates time for the non-custodial parent to have with the child, regardless of whether the other party agrees or not. This prevents conflicts in relationships between the parents from negatively impacting the child. A visitation order may be modified by the judge where the circumstances of the child or parents have changed, for example a change in work schedules or residences of either parent, or school schedules of the child.
The custodial parent cannot deny or interfere with court ordered visitation, unless it is believed that a visit may endanger the child.
In New York, the courts recognize that it in the best interests of children to have visitation with the non-custodial parent, even in situations where the non-custodial parent does not make child support payments to the custodial parent. However, a court may deny or suspend visitation if the judge determines that visitation with the non-custodial parent is not in the child's best interests, for example in situations where the parent abuses or neglects the child physically or emotionally, is a substance abuser, is incarcerated, or lives in dangerous and hazardous conditions. In some situations, a judge may grant supervised visitation, where the child is permitted to continue a relationship with the parent, but the parent's contact with the child is monitored in order that the child is not harmed or placed in a situation where harm might occur.
A parent can request custody and visitation when he or she begins a divorce proceeding in Supreme court or files a custody petition in Family court. However, if the parents can reach an amicable agreement prior to court proceedings, child visitation rights can be settled out of court and formalized in a written agreement, which is legally enforceable. This will include visitation frequency, days of the week, pick up and return times, vacation days, which holidays each parent gets, travel schedules for the children and so on. Such an agreement is the best outcome for the children involved, as the goal is to be able to move forward in life with as little stress as possible for all parties involved..