When a New York couple determines that they need to get a divorce, it is likely that one or both parties want custody of any children that resulted from the marriage. However, as with any legal process, filing for custody can be confusing.
Any person who has had a significant role in the life of the child is eligible to seek custody. The case begins when the petitioner, or the person seeking primary and legal custody of the child, files their intent with the court. The petition is filed in the county court where the child lives. The judge makes the determination based on certain factors, including the role that the petitioner has previously played in the child's life and what would best benefit the child.
If one parent is granted sole custody, it is likely that the noncustodial parent will be granted some form of visitation to allow them to continue to have a relationship with their child. The only exception to this is if there is a significant reason to refuse the noncustodial parent access. In many cases, the two parents decide when the other parent can visit with the child; if the parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, the judge may enforce a visitation schedule. Parents who do not have custody of their child may also seek visitation by filing a petition.
Because all child custody are unique to the specific situation, parents who want to seek custody should seek legal advice from a family law attorney. If a noncustodial parent is unable to visit their child due to the other parent refusing to cooperate, an attorney may assist with seeking custody for the noncustodial parent or request that the court enforce the terms of the visitation order.