Articles Posted in Visitation

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In this case the mother challenged the father being awarded sole custody and the requirement of her visitation being supervised.

Background Facts

In July 2021, the Family Court of Onondaga County awarded the petitioner, the father, sole legal and primary physical custody of the children involved. Additionally, it provided the mother with supervised visitation rights, stipulating that the specifics of these visitations be mutually agreed upon by both parents. This decision was subsequently appealed by the mother, who contested several aspects of the ruling.

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In the case of In re Danna T., the Suffolk County Family Court deliberated over a petition filed by E.O., the maternal grandmother of G.D., seeking visitation rights. The petition stemmed from E.O.’s desire to reconnect with her granddaughter, G.D., who she had not seen in several years. The court proceedings, which spanned multiple days, involved testimonies from both E.O. and the child’s mother, J.K.

Background Facts

E.O. filed the petition in February 2022, citing her standing as the grandmother of G.D. due to the death of the child’s father. The court heard conflicting testimonies regarding the nature of E.O.’s relationship with G.D. and the circumstances surrounding her absence from the child’s life. E.O. alleged that G.D.’s mother, J.K., had cut off contact between them, while J.K. argued that E.O. had made minimal effort to maintain a relationship with the child.

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In New York child custody cases, including those involving an incarcerated parent, the paramount consideration is the best interests of the child. The court considers factors such as the child’s safety, well-being, and overall welfare in determining custody arrangements, aiming to make decisions in the child’s best interests.

Background Facts

In 2002 the Family Court issued an order granting custody to the mother. An incident in December 2002 involved domestic violence, leading to criminal charges and a lengthy prison sentence for the father. The children, unfortunate witnesses to this event, experienced a severed paternal relationship.

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In Seeback v. Seeback, 14 N.Y.S.3d 494 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015), the Appellate Division considered whether supervised visitation was appropriate. Supervised visitation in New York is a structured arrangement facilitating parent-child interaction under the watchful eye of a designated supervisor. This setting ensures the safety and well-being of the child during visits, especially in circumstances where concerns about the noncustodial parent’s behavior or the child’s welfare exist. The supervisor, often a trained professional or a court-approved individual, oversees the visitation to prevent potential risks or conflicts. The goal is to provide a secure environment that allows the noncustodial parent to maintain a relationship with the child while addressing any underlying issues or concerns.

Supervised visitation may be court-ordered based on various factors such as a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other behaviors that could pose a risk to the child. The court determines the terms and conditions of the supervised visits, including the duration, location, and frequency. This arrangement prioritizes the child’s safety and best interests, allowing them to maintain contact with the noncustodial parent in a controlled and monitored setting. The ultimate aim is to support the child’s emotional well-being and ensure a positive and secure environment during the visitation process.

Background Facts

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What happens to parental rights when a parent is incarcerated in New York state. Generally, parents retain their parental rights, including the right to visitation. However, the caveat, is that every decision that a New York court makes with respects to children is guided by what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. In New York, the principle of “best interests of the child” serves as a foundational guideline for courts in determining custody and visitation arrangements.

In New York, this standard considers various factors, including the child’s physical and emotional health, the stability of each parent’s living environment, and the ability of parents to meet the child’s needs. Ultimately, the court aims to make decisions that promote the child’s

When applied to incarcerated parents, the “best interests of the child” standard takes into account a range of factors unique to the circumstances of parental incarceration. Courts typically consider the length of the sentence, the nature of the offense, the potential impact on the child’s emotional well-being, and the practical challenges associated with maintaining a relationship. While parental incarceration alone does not automatically preclude visitation, the court assesses whether such visitation might be detrimental to the child and may impose conditions such as supervised visitation or limitations based on logistical constraints. The overarching goal remains to strike a balance between maintaining the child’s connection with the incarcerated parent and ensuring their overall welfare and stability.

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In the case of YYW v. Z.G. 74 Misc. 3d 1206 (2022), the Family Court considered a case where the petitioner sought visitation of one of her children.  However, the petitioner was incarcerated. She had been convicted for severely abusing her child while she was pregnant with another child. When making a decision related to custody of visitation such as a modification of an existing order, the Family Court always looks at what is the best interests of the child.

When seeking to modify a custody order, the Family Court carefully assesses several factors to ensure the child’s best interests are paramount. The petitioner must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that necessitates modification. This change need not be extraordinary but must unequivocally serve the child’s welfare. The court evaluates the stability of the child’s life, the fitness of each parent, and the prior custody award, taking into account the totality of circumstances before making any modifications to the existing custody order.

Here, the case is complicated not only by the fact that the petition is incarcerated, but the reason for her incarceration is relevant to the best interests of the child issue. The court must navigate the delicate balance between maintaining the child’s safety and acknowledging the parental rights of the incarcerated individual.

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Visitation disputes arising from divorce cases often cast a shadow on the lives of children caught in the crossfire. The case of Koppenhoefer v. Koppenhoefer, 159 A.D.2d 113  (N.Y. App. Div. 1990), provides a poignant example of the complexities and challenges inherent in such legal battles.

Background

The Koppenhoefer case centers on Hans and Alicia, children of divorced parents entangled in visitation disputes since 1977. The divorce judgment, including a separation agreement, awarded custody to the mother while granting the father liberal visitation rights. Problems arose due to the lack of structure in visitation, prompting ongoing complaints from both parents. In 1982, Family Court modified the visitation terms, setting specific hours for weekends and midweek visits. Alimony was terminated, and child support increased to $105 per week.

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In the Matter of Marcial v. Sullivan the Family Court, Kings County, was tasked with weighing the delicate balance between a father’s desire for visitation and the welfare of his two children. The case, decided in 2002, sheds light on the nuanced considerations that come into play when a parent seeks visitation while facing incarceration.

In New York, incarcerated parents retain the right to seek visitation with their children, underscoring the importance of maintaining family connections. However, the overarching principle guiding such cases is the paramount consideration of the child’s best interests. While imprisonment alone doesn’t preclude visitation, courts carefully evaluate individual circumstances. Factors such as the nature of the parent-child relationship, the child’s age, and any potential risks are weighed to ensure that visitation aligns with the child’s well-being. This nuanced approach acknowledges the significance of maintaining parental ties even in challenging situations but emphasizes that these rights are subject to the ultimate goal of safeguarding the child’s welfare.

Background

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In the case of In re Davis (1996) the Appellate Division was asked to review a case involving parental visitation rights when where one parent is incarcerated. In New York, parental incarceration alone does not automatically preclude visitation rights, emphasizing the overarching principle that the best interests of the child remain paramount. Courts weigh various factors, including the nature of the incarceration setting, the distance involved, and the potential impact on the child’s well-being. While visitation may be deemed appropriate, the frequency and conditions are meticulously assessed to align with the child’s welfare. The case law underscores the need for a careful balance between a parent’s desire for visitation and the child’s best interests, ensuring a nuanced approach to each situation.

Background

In re Davis centers on a visitation dispute between parents who divorced in 1993 and share one child born in 1992. The mother was granted sole custody with no provision for visitation by the father. The father, incarcerated for the majority of the child’s life, was serving a prison term of 6 to 12 years at Gouverneur Correctional Facility in St. Lawrence County.

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Khan v. Schwartz, 201 A.D.3d 718 (N.Y. App. Div. 2022), involves a child custody dispute where the mother seeks to modify the in-person parental access provisions of a prior order that granted sole legal and physical custody of the children to the father.

In New York, the legal standard for granting sole custody involves a thorough consideration of the child’s best interests. Courts evaluate various factors to determine custody arrangements, and the overarching principle is to ensure the child’s well-being and safety. Factors considered include the parents’ ability to provide a stable home environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, any history of abuse or neglect, and the physical and mental health of all parties involved. The court may also consider the child’s preferences, particularly as they mature.

The standard is not based on a presumption in favor of either parent but on an assessment of the totality of circumstances. The goal is to create a custody arrangement that fosters the child’s emotional and physical development while maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents whenever possible. Ultimately, the court’s decision aims to serve the child’s best interests, and it may order sole custody to one parent if it determines that such an arrangement is most conducive to the child’s overall welfare.

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