Can parents modify their child custody orders?
Change is part of life in New York. Sometimes, change comes slowly and sometimes it occurs suddenly. However it occurs, people have to adjust their lives to the changes they experience. Sometimes, it is easier to adjust their lives than other times. For instance, parents with child custody orders cannot change their orders and arrangements as easily as parents who are still together.
In order to change a custody order, unless the other parent agrees to the change, the parent seeking the change will need to ask a judge to modify their order. However, in order to be successful, parents need to have good reasons for needing the change.
When parents can modify a custody order
Parents need to be able to demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances since the time of the original order. It cannot just be minor changes that naturally occur as children grow older. The changes must be because the current order is no longer serving the children in the best way. If parents must show that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances. They also need to show that the requested changes to the order are in the best interests of the children.
To determine what is in the best interests of the children, the judge will need to analyze a number of different factors including, but not limited to: how fit each parent is to provide the care for the children and their ability to provide for the children’s needs; the children’s needs, their attachment to the current environment, the children’s wishes if they are of a suitable age and other relevant factors.
Modifying a child custody order in New York can be more difficult than establishing custody in the first place. The initial determination is only based on the best interests of the children. However, when parents try to modify the orders, they must also show that there is a substantial change in the circumstances in addition to that. They are very fact-specific decisions based on the unique information that the parent presented to the judge as well. Experienced attorneys understand the factors used to determine custody modifications and may be beneficial for people going through the process.