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Child Custody and Visitation in New York

Child custody and visitation issues can be emotionally charged and complex, but understanding the laws and regulations specific to your state is crucial for a successful resolution. In the state of New York, there are well-defined laws and guidelines governing child custody and visitation arrangements.

Child Custody in New York:

Types of Custody:

In New York, child custody can be categorized into two main types:

  1. Legal Custody: This grants the custodial parent the authority to make significant decisions concerning the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious affiliation.
  2. Physical Custody: This determines where the child will primarily reside, and the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights as ordered by the court.

Joint Custody

New York courts often favor joint legal custody, which allows both parents to participate in making major decisions in the child’s life. However, physical custody might still be awarded to one parent, with the other receiving visitation rights.


Visitation Schedule:

The visitation schedule in New York is typically determined by the court or negotiated between the parents. The schedule outlines when the non-custodial parent can spend time with the child, including weekends, holidays, and school vacations.

Best Interests of the Child:

The guiding principle for determining child custody and visitation in New York is the “best interests of the child.” The court considers various factors, including the child’s age, the parents’ physical and mental health, the child’s relationship with each parent, and each parent’s willingness to cooperate in fostering the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution:

New York encourages parents to resolve custody and visitation disputes amicably, often through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. If parents can reach a mutually agreeable arrangement, the court is likely to approve it as long as it aligns with the child’s best interests.

Modifying Custody and Visitation Orders:

Child custody and visitation orders are not set in stone and can be modified if circumstances change significantly. For example, if one parent relocates, experiences a substantial change in financial circumstances, or if the child’s best interests are no longer being served, the court may consider a modification.

Enforcing Custody and Visitation Orders:

In cases where one parent is not complying with the court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements, legal remedies are available. A parent can file a petition with the court, requesting enforcement of the order. The court may issue penalties or require the non-compliant parent to make up lost visitation time.


Navigating child custody and visitation issues in New York can be challenging, but understanding the laws and regulations is essential for achieving a resolution that serves the best interests of the child. It’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance and represent your interests effectively throughout the legal process. Remember that the primary focus should always be the well-being and happiness of the child, as New York courts are committed to ensuring the child’s best interests are upheld in all custody and visitation matters.