What is visitation?
Visitation (also called “parenting time” in New York) refers to the time that non-custodial parents spend with their children. It means that even though the child lives with one parent, the child may still get to spend time with the other parent. A parent who does not have legal custody or physical custody will generally still be entitled to visitation. Note: Even if there is an order of protection in effect that says the abuser/parent has to stay away from the child, there will often be an exception made so that the abuser/parent can see the child during court-scheduled visits. (For example, the order of protection may say “stay away from the child except for court-ordered visitation.”)
Generally speaking, a child’s parents may come to an agreement on a specific visitation schedule on their own. However, if the parents cannot agree, the judge can order specific time for each parent (unless there is a good reason for one parent not to have visitation). Visitation that is ordered by the court will take into consideration the best interests of the child.
When deciding on a visitation schedule, a parent may get weekend parenting time, weekday parenting time, and/or a division of the holidays, school recesses, and summer vacation. A common visitation schedule could be that the non-custodial parent has time with the child every-other weekend, two weeks in the summer and on alternating holidays (for example, in even years, the mother has the child on Christmas Eve and the father has the child on Christmas Day and in odd years, the father has the child on Christmas Eve and the mother has the child on Christmas Day). However, each situation is different – for advice on your particular custody/visitation case, please talk to a lawyer. Go to our NY Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.