A little boy hugs his father's hand

How Do Courts Determine Child Visitation Rights For Unwed Couples?

Unmarried parents with children should expect to settle child custody and visitation issues in the same way as married couples, although the actual process depends on where you live and other unique problems.

In New York, the law restricts custodial parents from interfering with the visitation rights of noncustodial parents. Most lawyers should know how to address this problem, whether you hire a family lawyer in New York City or Nassau County. Divorce lawyer reviews on the Internet can help you sift through different firms, but take note that a personal consultation remains necessary especially for complicated cases.

How Courts Decide

Child custody consists of two types. The first one deals with the child’s education, healthcare and even religious affiliation. Otherwise known as legal custody, this simply allows the custodial parent to have the final say on these matters. The second one involves physical or residential custody, which simply means that a child stays with one or both parents for a certain time.

Courts will always consider the child’s best interests when making a decision on custody problems, and that means having a preference for both parents to remain involved in their kids’ lives. This trend became evident in 2008 when divorce courts only granted full custody to mothers for 42% of the time, compared to 80% before the 1970s, according to a study. A judge will only rule in favor of sole custody when the other parent has displayed abusive or negligent behavior to the child.

Despite the increasing number of shared custody cases, most courts still rule in favor of mothers for residential custody particularly when the parents live too far away from each other. It can be distressing for the child to travel back and forth while they are still going to school. However, this shouldn’t be a reason for the custodial parent to block any attempts of their ex-spouse to see their child.

Child Support And Visitation

Child Support Word Over Dollar Bills and Gavel

You should file a “Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order” in New York when the custodial parent violates or interferes with your visitation rights. Be prepared with concrete pieces of evidence like the frequency and dates of interference. Don’t plan on skipping child support payments just because you weren’t successful to argue your case.

New York’s state law doesn’t recognize visitation and child support as one and the same unless a court granted a suspension of payments arising from the violation. Some people have been successful with their attempt to reverse court-ordered payments, due to the custodial parents’ interference with their visitation rights.

However, don’t expect that the court will readily grant your request based solely on this issue. It’s possible to pay a bigger fine or be imprisoned for not paying child support, even when you don’t get to see your child.

Conclusion

Judges will not likely focus on a couple’s marital status when making a decision about child custody issues. It’s important to have legal counsel to advise you on the best approach for negotiations, as your demeanor will be a significant deciding factor for the court’s ruling.