Whether you’re new to co-parenting, going through a divorce, or have experienced a life change, you may be wondering how to modify your child custody agreement. In New York, your original child custody order from the court is a binding legal document. You must follow the child custody agreement unless the court allows you to modify the agreement. While a child custody modification is possible, the process can be difficult without an experienced attorney by your side.
Contact a Child Custody Modification Lawyer Today
At CDH Law PLLC, our legal team understands how difficult it can be to understand that your child is in danger or not living in a healthy and safe environment. We also understand what it’s like to undergo a substantial change that requires modification to your child support agreement. Our Syracuse-based family law firm has decades of experience helping clients achieve the results they need to keep their children safe in their cases. When you work with us, you and your child will be a top priority. Don’t hesitate to contact CDH Law PLLC to schedule your initial consultation to discuss your case.
New York Child Custody Laws
One of the most difficult matters to deal with after a divorce is a child custody modification. When a contested divorce results in a heated child custody battle, the family court decides who will receive custody based on several factors. From this point onward, the spouse who doesn’t obtain custody may or may not be expected to pay child support. When a parent experiences a substantial change or is unable to care for their children, the other parent can petition the court to modify the child custody agreement.
Petition for Modification of Child Custody in New York
If your current child custody order is no longer working for you, you have a right to petition the court to modify it. However, you will need to prove several factors for the court to modify your child custody agreement. You’ll need to show that the change to the agreement is in your child’s best interest. You also need to show that you have experienced a substantial change of circumstances that justifies modifying the custody agreement. There are several common reasons that parents seek a child custody modification, including:
- One parent has a substance abuse problem that jeopardizes the child’s safety
- One parent has committed acts of domestic violence
- One parent’s home environment has become unstable
- One parent has developed a serious medical condition
- One parent is interested in moving away with the child
- The child who is over 12 is requesting a change
- One parent has neglected or abandoned the child
- The custodial parent moves frequently
- The custodial parent frequently changes jobs or has unpredictable working hours
- The custodial parent has experienced a significant change in income
- The custodial parent routinely fails to make the child available for visitation with the other parent
In cases involving child abuse, modifying the child custody agreement will almost certainly be in the child’s best interest, and a judge will be likely to make the modification. Regardless of the issues currently taking place, it’s wise to discuss your case with a child custody lawyer; your lawyer will help you understand whether the court is likely to consider the reason for the change to be substantial.
Substantial Changes in Circumstances
To successfully modify a child custody agreement, you will need to show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. It is unlikely that a New York court will grant your request to modify the custody agreement unless you show that you or the other parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances.
You’ll also need to show that this substantial change has profoundly affected the efficacy of the original child custody agreement found in the divorce decree. Qualifying substantial changes could include job loss, remarriage, criminal conduct, or a significant lifestyle change. It’s also possible that the judge will be willing to hear requests from children over age 12, who would like to spend more time with one of their parents.
Do I Have to Go to Court to Modify the Custody Agreement?
What if you and your spouse agree on the changes you’d like to make? Do you still need to go to court? Mutually agreeing that a change is necessary can be helpful, but it is only a short-term solution. It’s important to understand the downsides to informal custody arrangements. If your co-parent decides to go back to the original child custody agreement, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. You will have no legal standing to prohibit them from abandoning the new agreement.
For this reason, it’s always in the child’s best interest to seek a child custody modification through the court system. Once the judge has signed off on the modified custody agreement, the new order will become legally binding. As a result, you will have the right to enforce the order if the other parent fails to abide by the new terms. Remember, you aren’t required to go through the court system if you and the other parent have already reached a decision, but doing so is the best way to protect you and your child’s legal rights.
Discuss Your Case With a Syracuse Child Custody Modification Lawyer
You can file a petition to modify a child custody order on your own, but hiring an experienced lawyer will help you tremendously. At CDH Law PLLC, our child custody modification lawyers will carefully review your case and advise you of your legal options. We can help you petition the court to modify your child custody agreement for you and your child’s benefit. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation with a skilled child custody lawyer in Syracuse.