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New York Enacts New Law Limiting Access to Child Custody for Convicted Sex Offenders

In August, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of new bills related to a number of different issues, including certain family law rights. Among other things, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that prohibits sex offenders from gaining custody rights over a child that they abused. According to reporting from the New York Daily News, the legislation is designed to take all of the discretion out of the hands of judges and courts. 

Children Being in the Custody of Abuser Was Rare — But Possible

One of the sponsors of this bill, New York State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), noted that it was unusual for New York state judges to actually put abused child back into care of sex offenders. However, she also stated that it has happened in some cases — and that this bill will prevent it from happening again going forward. On this issue, New York judges will no longer have the discretion to consider the specific circumstances of the case. Sex offenders cannot be granted custody over a child that they abused. 

Unsupervised Visitation is Also Being Prohibited  

Beyond barring child custody, the new law also limits the visitation rights of convicted sex offenders. State law now prohibits convicted sex offenders from having unsupervised visitation with the children that they abused. As explained by Syracuse, NY child custody attorney Richard J. Bombardo, “Unsupervised visitation is visitation that occurs without any other responsible adult present at the visit. With supervised visitation, another responsible adult must be present.”

Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, supervised visitation can be structured in several different ways. For example, in some cases, New York judges will require supervised visits to take place within designated state-run facilities. In other cases, supervised visitation may be permitted in the home of one of the parents, but with a social worker or similarly qualified professional in the room to monitor the situation. 

Finally, a judge may permit a relative or friend to serve as the monitor for the supervised visits. Though, generally, this will only be allowed if both parents agree that the friend/relative is reliable, trustworthy, and capable. In handling questions regarding how supervised visitation should be structured — and if supervised visitation is even appropriate at all — New York judges will retain some discretion. 

To discuss your case call Richard Bombardo at (315) 488-5544.


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