A parent seeking to visit with a child may file a petition in Family Court against the person or persons who have custody of the child. Custody and visitation matters are often heard together within the same hearing, but a visitation petition may also be filed as a separate matter. Other family members, such as grandparents or siblings, may also file a petition seeking an order of visitation. The court will order visitation if it is in the child’s best interests.
An order of visitation permits a non-custodial parent to have parenting time with the child or children on specified days or times. An example would be a visitation order that gave a parent the right to visit with the child “Every Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM away from the residence of the custodial parent”.
A parent, grandparent or a person with a substantial connection or relationship with the child may file a petition in Family Court requesting that the court award that person specifically designated visitation rights with a child. A copy of the petition and a summons must be served upon (delivered personally to) the person or parties who presently have custody of the child. If the child’s parents are separated and one parent seeks a visitation order, that parent must have the papers served upon the other parent. If a non-parent is seeking visitation with the child, then both of the child’s parents must be served.
There are no filing fees in Staten Island Family Court.
If the parties agree about visitation with the child, the judge may take testimony from both parties and enter an order of visitation on consent, without the need for a formal hearing. If the parties cannot reach an agreement about visitation, the court will hold a hearing, taking testimony from both sides, and may appoint a lawyer to represent the child. The court may order an investigation and report from a social services agency or mental health professional. After considering the evidence presented, the court may enter a custody order based upon what is in the child’s best interests.
In Staten Island Family Court, a visitation case may be heard by a Family Court “Court Attorney-Referee”, who may hear and decide the case and issue orders.
The parties to visitation matters may represent themselves or hire lawyers. We recommend that any person who has a serious dispute involving custody or visitation should always consult Family Law attorneys who have substantial experience handling these matters. Our firm has over 30 years of experience handling difficult custody and visitation cases. Even if you are unsure about whether to hire an attorney to represent you in Staten Island Family Court, why not protect yourself by making an appointment for a confidential 30 minute consultation with an experienced Family Court attorney at our law firm – the cost is only $150? In some cases, when a party has little income and cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the judge may appoint a lawyer at no cost. The judge may also appoint a lawyer to represent the child; this lawyer was formerly called a “law guardian”, but now is referred to as the “attorney for the child”.
Either party may file a petition to have a custody or visitation order modified (changed). The party seeking to have the order modified must prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the original order was issued. The court holds a hearing to determine if a change is in the child’s best interests.
If a court order gives certain visitation rights to a party and the other party fails to obey the order, the complaining party may file a petition alleging a violation of the order. After the court holds a hearing, the judge may change the order and/or impose sanctions on the party who has failed to comply with the order.
If you have been served with a petition from Staten Island Family Court seeking an award of visitation with your child and you do not believe that such visitation would be in your child’s best interests, we urge you to call our office immediately to make an appointment to meet with an experienced Family Law attorney. So learn your rights at an Initial Consultation. The fee is only $150 for up to 30 minutes, and if you hire our firm within 30 days, we will credit the Consultation fee of $150 back to your account! Appointments are available 6 days per week – Monday through Saturday for your convenience.