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Resolving disputes creatively

Are custody and visitation always decided together?

Raising children is a very important job for parents. The relationships that parents have with their children are also very important to both the parents and the children. So, when parents go through a divorce, one of the most important issues that they must resolve is child custody and visitation. These issues ultimately determine who will make the decisions regarding the children's upbringing and when each parent will see the children.

Oftentimes these two decisions are made at the same time, but they are two separate issues. Custody is the decision determination and visitation determines when each parent will have the children in his or her care. A parent also does not need custody rights in order to have visitation with children, and there actually must be a good reason not to grant a parent visitation. Also, there are other people who can request visitation as well, such as siblings and grandparents.

Ultimately the visitation decision and the child custody decision are both based on the best interests of the child. This means that a judge will analyze a number of different factors, such as which parent provided the care, the needs of the child and the parent's ability to meet the needs, trying to ensure siblings stay together, the wishes of the child if they are old enough and others.

While child custody and visitation are usually decided at the same time, they are two distinct issues that can be dealt with individually. Ultimately, many of the same factors will be used to make each determination though. This means that both visitation and child custody determinations are very fact specific determinations and each one is unique.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Visitation" accessed on Sept. 18, 2017

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