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Rockland & Westchester County Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Custody > New York Laws on Child Visitation Preferences & Emancipation

New York Laws on Child Visitation Preferences & Emancipation


As Rockland County custody and visitation attorneys, one question that we frequently hear from clients who are divorcing with adolescent children is: Can my child refuse to visit with one of their parents, and if so, at what age do they qualify to make this choice? Obviously, at age 18, a child can decide not to visit with one or more of their parents without experiencing any consequences to themselves or the parent because they are considered legal adults at that age.

The Law in New York

Prior to age 18, the age at which the court will consider the child’s preference largely depends upon state law: In New York, a child’s parental preference can be taken into account at any age, however, the courts here provide more weight to this preference if the child is more mature. Regardless, state law does not name a specific age in order to leave this option open-ended and determinative on a case-by-case basis. The general rule is, the closer the child is to 18 years old, the more weight the court will provide to the child’s wishes in terms of custody and visitation.


It is also possible for a child to “self-emancipate” prior to the age of 18: New York does not have a minor emancipation statute or emancipation orders – emancipation is ancillary to another proceeding, such as one related to child custody or support. Children can be deemed emancipated if they become economically independent through employment, marry, enter the military, and/or withdraw from parental control and supervision and therefore may be deemed constructively emancipated.

Under some circumstances, a child who is not financially self-sufficient may be deemed emancipated, where parents  are relieved of their support obligations, and under other circumstances, a child can retain their right to support from their parent, depending upon whether the parental home has been abandoned by the minor with or without sufficient cause.

Parents can be liable for financial support of the child, depending upon whether they obey reasonable rules of the household, up until age 20, however, a child can only be subject to Family Court jurisdiction as a person in need of supervision if they fail to obey the reasonable rules of the household up until age 17. It is also possible for the courts to change the status of the emancipated child.

Contact A Knowledgeable New York Child Custody & Visitation Attorney

If you have any questions about child custody and visitation, consulting with an experienced New York child custody attorney is your best course of action to get these questions answered. The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. can help: Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation and find out more.



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