Visitation or parenting time represents a key component of divorce cases involving child custody issues. Generally speaking, a parent who does not receive primary residential custody is entitled to have reasonable and regular visitation or parenting time with his or her child.
If you are heading into a divorce case, you must understand the essential laws as they pertain to visitation issues. Similarly, if you have post-divorce issues regarding visitation, you need to understand the law. In addition, no matter the specific reasons you face visitation issues, you must appreciate who you need to do to best protect your legal rights and interests.
Standard for Visitation Orders in New York
In the state of New York, visitation determinations are made based on what is in the best interests of a child. A court considers a variety of factors when making a determination on a visitation arrangement.
Included among the elements considered by a court in a visitation case is the overall emotional, physical, and mental health of the parents and the child. Another issue is the existing living situation of the parents, with a focus on where the noncustodial parent will have visitation with the child.
The Concept of Parenting Time
In recent years, the concept of parenting time has supplanted the traditional term “visitation” in many instances. Parenting time is preferred because a noncustodial parent should not be relegated to the role of being a visitor in the life or his or her child.
Once a visitation order is put into effect, the day may come when it becomes necessary for a parent to enforce an existing parenting time order. The most common type of enforcement situation is when the custodial parent interferes with the noncustodial parent’s visitation time. The custodial parent withholds visitation from the custodial parent.
When a situation like this occurs, the noncustodial parent files a motion to enforce visitation order with the court that issued the order in the first instance. The court will consider evidence presented regarding visitation interference.
In addition to enforcing a visitation order, the court may sanction the parent that interfered with the visitation of the other party. Sanctions can include a monetary penalty or an assessment of the attorney fees accumulated by the party that needed to file a motion to enforce.
The court can take serious action if a parent continues to interfere with or violate a visitation order. In the worst case scenario, a court could order a change of custody.
Change Custody Order
The time may come when you desire to alter a visitation arrangement. If you are the other parent agree to the change, you can prepare an agreement. The agreement is then submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, the agreement is incorporated into an order from the court itself. The provisions of the agreement end up having the full force of a court order.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you have the right to file a motion to change the visitation arrangement. The court will conduct a hearing and issue an order either approving or denying the requested change.
Retain a queens Visitation Lawyer
You should take a proactive approach when it comes to hiring a qualified, experienced Queens visitation lawyer. The first step in hiring a lawyer is scheduling an initial consultation.
At an initial consultation, legal counsel will provide you with a thorough evaluation of your case. In addition, you will be able to raise any questions you may have about your case. As a matter of practice in New York, a Queens visitation lawyer charges no fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.
Can I get copies of our Marital Settlement agreement?
It is important to have copies of your marital settlement. Even after a divorce is long over, your marital settlement will affect your life. These agreements contain information that is very important to your financial future, including how property is divided, how debts are paid for, and who has certain income tax obligations and rights. In addition, if you have children you will need a copy to ensure that you are compliant with custody and visitation orders. If you retain a new attorney, they will want to have a copy to refer to throughout your case. There is a huge amount of information in these orders, often more than a person can remember off hand. As a result, it is important to always have a physical copy for reference.
However, paperwork can easily become misplaced. In addition, some courts do not give copies to all of the involved parties, but rather file them so you can access them later if needed. If you need a new copy of your marital settlement, there are several ways to get one. First, if you are still in the area where the agreement was filed, you can go down to the courthouse and request a new agreement. There is usually a small fee to do this, but you can often have a physical copy on the same day. In order to do this, you will need some information:
- The names of the people involved in the case.
- Your case number, which can be looked up online. Some clerks do not require this information.
- Proof of your identity, such as a government issued photo identification like a driver’s license or passport.
If you live in another area, you can contact the Clerk of the Court. This office will be able to tell you how to request a copy of your marital settlement agreement through the mail. This often has additional costs. In addition, it will take longer to receive your copy because it has to be sent through the mail. These can take up to ten days in some cases. Plan ahead to allow for this time.
In addition, the attorney who handled your case should have a copy of the agreement. You can call their office and ask for a copy. They may be able to send an electronic copy, allowing you to get access to the document more quickly. However, this is a more expensive way of getting a copy of your agreement. While court clerks are funded with tax dollars, you will need to pay for the expenses of the lawyer’s employees involved in locating, copying, and sending your copy.
If you have retained a new attorney, they can often handle getting this document easily. Again, you will need to reimburse the law office for their time. However, many people find it is easier to let their lawyer handle this. As a benefit, they will now have a copy of the marital settlement agreement that you and they both can access as needed.
Once you have obtained your new copy of the marital settlement agreement, it is important not to lose it again. If you keep files, file it away in its own folder. Alternately, many people prefer to keep it in a safe where it cannot be lost in the event of a fire or burglary. You should also scan the document so you can keep a copy on your computer. Because it is time-consuming to get a new copy of this document, it is worth it to take steps not to misplace it once again.