In most states, including New York, a parent can file for a child custody modification. Yet, the court doesn’t alter child custody orders without review. You must show that circumstances have changed substantially since your original custody order or that your modification request is in the best interest of your child.
Reasons to seek a modification
Here are some examples when the court may grant a child custody modification:
- Your child is in danger in the other parent’s home (because of their alcohol or drug addiction or domestic violence or abuse issues).
- Your child is 12 and has requested a different child custody arrangement.
- The original custody order was made when you were deployed and now you have returned and want a more active role in your child’s life.
- Your ex continually ignores the current visitation schedule and doesn’t communicate with you well to uphold it.
- Your ex has disengaged from your child, no longer participating in the agreed-upon visitation schedule.
Evaluating the best interests of the child
In any child custody issue, the court will evaluate what the best interests of a child are. This includes looking at the following:
- The physical and mental health of both parents
- The age and sex of the child
- If the child has special needs and who takes care of those needs
- What the child’s relationships with extended family, such as grandparents, are like
- The need for a stable environment
- The child’s adjustment to his or her school or community
- If your child’s other parent has verbally, physically or sexually abused your child
Sharing child custody with a former spouse isn’t always easy. It may take time to adjust to your child custody agreement. Most of the time, the court favors both parents being actively involved in a child’s life. Yet if your child’s best interests are for a child custody modification, working with an experienced family law attorney can best help you prepare your modification request for approval.