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Law Offices Of David Bliven
Law Offices Of David Bliven
  • White Plains Office 19 Court Street
    Suite 206
    White Plains, 10601
  • Bronx Office 3190 Riverdale Avenue
    Suite 1
    Bronx, NY 10463

Will Police Ever Enforce a Custody or Visitation Order in New York?

Generally – and in this context – the police only get involved if there is deprivation of access from a custodial parent. In the State of New York, a non-custodial parent withholding custody of a child from their custodial parent is called “custodial interference.” It is a Class A misdemeanor within state lines. If the non-custodial parent brings the child across state lines, it is a felony. That’s usually when the police will get involved.

Most other times, the police will only get involved if someone is alleging some kind of domestic violence, such as harassment or menacing or something along those lines. The police officer’s primary job is to enforce criminal statutes. They are not really there to enforce family court or custody or visitation orders. Oftentimes, if they are called out to the scene to enforce custody or visitation orders, they might informally talk to the parties and try calming them down. However, if there is still a dispute, they usually (merely) tell the people involved to bring the issue to the attention of a Family Court Judge.

Why Do I Need An Attorney To File A Motion To Enforce Child Custody Or Child Visitation In New York?

You don’t necessarily need an attorney to file those sorts of Motions. There are forms online at nycourts.gov which can theoretically be used to draft one’s own Petition. In addition, when courts reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown, you can also physically go to the Court and have the clerks who work there assist you in drafting the various necessary Applications.

However, it is advisable to hire an attorney if you want the best chance at a good outcome for these Motions, Petitions, and Applications. Firstly, an attorney will make sure everything gets filed appropriately and on time, which often trips up self-filers. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney will know how to phrase the Petitions submitted to the Court so they will be compelling and considered valid by a Judge. You don’t want to say too much or too little in order to sustain your case, because in theory, a Judge could find you have insufficiently stated a basis for them to modify or enforce the Order, and then not even grant you a hearing or trial on it. If you want the best chance at a hearing, and success at that hearing, it behooves you to hire an attorney.

Which Court In New York Will Hear A Motion To Enforce Child Custody Or Visitation?

These Motions are either heard by Family Court by filing a Petition for Violation or Enforcement, or Supreme Court by filing an Order to Show Cause.

If A Motion To Enforce Custody Or Visitation Is Granted, What Steps Will The Court In New York Take To Enforce It?

There are a number of things they can do, depending once again on the severity of the Order. They can switch custody of a child or children, increase or decrease visitation, make visitation supervised, or take visitation away altogether. They can also sanction a person in the form of either a monetary fine or an award of counsel fees. In theory, they can incarcerate someone or put them on probation, but in my experience, this is very rarely done (in this context).

Additional Information On Enforcement Of Custody And Visitation Orders In New York

The bottom line is: it’s always best to consult an attorney on these matters as early in the process as possible. You don’t want to guess as to whether certain aspects are enforceable or modifiable, and you want a good attorney making your case. This means finding an attorney who specializes in family law. If you are considering hiring an attorney, ask them what percentage of their cases are divorce or family law cases. If they don’t immediately answer that it’s the majority of their practice (or better yet, the vast majority or the entirety of their practice), then they are really not a specialist. Attorneys who aren’t specialists are more “jack of all trades” who accept anything that comes through their door. Generally you want to be wary of that. I always analogize in medical practice that if you have a really serious medical issue, you want to go to a specialist rather than a general practitioner. The same thing applies with law.

For more information on Police Enforcement Of Custody Orders, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080 today.