The holidays are almost upon us again, which means both custodial and non-custodial parents must figure out a visitation schedule that works for the entire family. As a parent, you want the holidays to be enjoyable and memorable. Disputes over visitation can have a negative impact, so it is best to put a plan into place as early in the season as possible. A Rensselaer County divorce lawyer can assist with all aspects of visitation during the holidays, but you find it useful to understand the basics of the process.
The Court’s Order on Visitation is Paramount
At the outset, you should note that all matters involving custody and visitation in New York are subject to a court order. Whether by agreement between the parents or decree after a hearing, this order is binding upon both parents. If the order allows you to determine a holiday visitation schedule on an as-needed basis, you may not need to get a judge’s approval to make changes. However, when a visitation order is specific on assigning certain holidays, you may need to head to court. Regardless of whether you can agree, any arrangement that does not comply with the order could lead to legal trouble.
Making Changes to a Visitation Order
If you can agree on a modified visitation schedule, it is possible to petition the appropriate family law court within the New York State Unified Court System. You would request a change the existing visitation order for the holidays, which would temporarily supersede the current arrangement. A judge is not likely to interfere with your visitation agreement unless it is contrary to the child’s best interests.
When parents cannot come to an agreement, it may be possible to resolve disputes through mediation before a neutral party. If you are still unable to compromise, you must either adhere to the current visitation schedule or take the matter to a hearing.
Challenges to the Court’s Order on Visitation
As was the case with the original order regarding visitation, the proceedings to modify a visitation order are very similar to a trial. The primary consideration is whether your challenge to the existing visitation is in the best interests of your child. You will get the chance to testify, present witnesses, and provide the court with evidence of why your child will benefit from a change to the visitation schedule for the holidays. If you are against a modification to visitation, you will also be able to state your position to the court. After weighing the evidence, the judge will make a determination on the matter.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Visitation Attorney About Adjustments Over the Holidays
Even when you and your child’s other parent can agree on a visitation schedule for the holidays, it is critical to go through the proper process when making changes. Our custody and visitation lawyers at the Colwell Law Group, LLC can assist with negotiations and entering the necessary orders. If it becomes necessary to take the matter to a hearing, we can represent your interests in court. For more information, please call 518-864-0564 or visit our website. We are happy to schedule a consultation to explain your legal options.