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Suffolk County Visitation Lawyer

Fighting for Visitation Rights in Suffolk County

The decision to divorce is often one of the most difficult and emotionally stressful decisions a couple can face. When children are involved it can be even more complicated and emotionally charged. Although the interests of the child are of paramount importance when it comes to child custody and visitation, as a parent you have certain rights.

At the office of Kuhn & Sandler, PLLC, we have over 30 years of combined experience in the area of family law. We understand that this is probably one of the most difficult times our clients have to face and we are sensitive to their needs.

We are committed to providing ethical and high quality service. We work closely with each individual, making sure that all of their concerns are understood and addressed and that our clients goals are aggressively pursued. The quality of service we provide is second to none, as evidenced by the people that use us and refer clients to us - including judges, attorneys, CPAs, business owners, doctors, teachers, police, firemen and homemakers.

Visitation Attorney in Suffolk County

During a divorce proceeding, the court will generally work with the parents and their attorneys to establish child custody and visitation rights. Under New York Law, a parent generally has the right to spend time with his or her child, even if that parent is not granted physical custody of the child. The most important factor is what is in the best interest of the child and this is carefully looked at by the court in making their determination. There are several factors that the judge will take into consideration.

A few of these include:

  • The age and wishes of the child
  • Any history of domestic violence by the parent
  • Both the physical and mental health of the parent
  • The work schedule of the parents
  • The desire of the custodial parent to maintain the child's relationship with the other parent

In some cases, depending on the finding of the court, there may be circumstances under which the judge finds that it is not in the best interest of the child to grant the parent visitation rights. In addition, in some cases, the custodial parent might challenge the visitation rights of the other parent, or the child may refuse to visit with the noncustodial parent. Therefore, it is very important that you contact an experienced divorce attorney to protect your rights a parent.

New York Standard Visitation Schedule

The type of custody schedule you end up with largely depends on whether you have sole or joint custody. In a sole custody arrangement, the child spends the vast majority of their time living with one parent. In a joint-custody arrangement, the child spends a significant amount of time living with each parent.

Courts typically pursue joint-custody settlements, since they assume children are better off when they can regularly spend time with both parents (assuming both parents are fit to act as caregivers).

There are three types of common joint-custody schedules.

  • Alternating weeks. In an alternating weeks schedule, the child switches parents each week. Whichever parent they spend more nights with is the custodial parent, and receives head of household (HoH) benefits, like certain tax breaks. For this reason, parents often switch up their custody arrangements, so each parent gets HoH benefits every other year.
    Alternating weeks schedules have a variety of benefits. Each parent gets weekdays and weekends with the child, helping them participate in both their child's academic and free time equally. Additionally, since the child spends a substantial amount of time with each parent, it's easy to create a consistent, functional family dynamic between the parents and child.
    Of course, the schedule also has its drawbacks. It may not work well if one parent works long hours during the week, travels regularly, or needs to work night shifts. It can also make planning for holidays somewhat difficult. That brings us to the next schedule.
  1. The 3-4-4-3 schedule. In a 3-4-4-3 schedule, the child spends three days with the first parent, then four days with the second. The following week, the child spends four days with the first parent, then three days with the second.
    Like the alternating weeks schedule, this schedule enables the child to spend time with each parent in regular bursts. Because the schedule is shorter, it can also be easier to adjust for parents with irregular work schedules. However, it also has drawbacks. Depending on the day you exchange custody, one parent may find themselves spending unable to consistently spend weekends with the child, missing out on valuable free time. Ending up in a situation where one parent is the "fun" parent the child gets to see at the end of the week and on weekends can create tension in the family dynamic, so try and avoid that if you can.
  2. The 2-2-5-5 schedule. In a 2-2-5-5 schedule, the child spends two days with the first parent, then two days with the second. Afterwards, the child spends five days with each parent.
    The 2-2-5-5 schedule also has a multitude of benefits. It's very flexible, making it a good option for parents who travel often or don't always know when they'll be available. Additionally, the schedule is a bit easier to organize around holidays and weekends than the other schedules, which can help balance out the family dynamic and ensure everyone gets the time they deserve with the child.
    However, like the 3-4-4-3 schedule, a lack of proactive planning can result in one parent spending less leisure time with their child. As with the 3-4-4-3 schedule, parents need to plan carefully in advance to make sure both caregivers spend quality time with their child.

Now that we've covered some of the most common joint-custody arrangements, let's move on to sole custody arrangements.

In a sole custody arrangement, the noncustodial parent doesn't get to keep the child for any length of time—instead, they get visitation rights. Depending on the case, the custodial parent can ask for supervised visitation (where a law enforcement office or childcare professional watches over the noncustodial parent when they spend time with the child).

There are two common types of sole custody arrangements:

  1. Weekend visits. One common arrangement is to allow the noncustodial parent visitation rights every weekend or every other weekend. The amount of time the parent spends with the child depends on the details of the arrangement. This is a good option for parents who have hectic work schedules and want to ensure the visitations happen when the child isn't worried about other things (like school).
  2. Weekend and midweek visits. In arrangements where the noncustodial parent has greater visitation rights, they may also be able to visit the child midweek. This can be a good option for noncustodial parents who cannot have custody for a specific reason (financial instability or a hectic work schedule, for example), but are still fit to parent and want to be involved in their child's life.

Speak with your custody lawyer to decide what type of custody arrangement is right for you.

Are you in the process of getting divorced? Do you have children? If so, then you should contact a Suffolk County divorce attorney in order to protect your rights as a parent.

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