New York Child Custody Modification Attorney

Parents in the state of New York who feel they have experienced a significant change in their circumstances which materially affects their original child custody agreement may be able to request a child custody modification.  An initial child custody order is issued because it is presumed to be in the best interests of the child—or can be issued when the parents are in agreement regarding custody issues. When one parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances, it is possible to petition the court for a modification of child custody. The parents can come to their own agreement regarding a modification of custody without going to court, and if both parents are in 100 percent agreement, the court will generally convert the agreement to a court order without any issues.

However, even if both parents agree to the modification, if the court believes the changes are not in the best interests of the child, it can refuse to agree to the modified custody agreement. Parents who are considering a child custody modification and believe they have experienced a significant change in circumstances should consult a New York family law attorney from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. Katherine Ryan will be the advocate in your corner, fighting for your child custody rights, whether you are asking for a modification, or are not in favor of the modification the child’s other parent is asking for. Attorney Katherine Ryan has the experience, knowledge, and a deep understanding of your family law issues.

What is a “Significant” or “Substantial” Change in Circumstances?

In order to successfully modify a current child custody arrangement in the state of New York, the stated change in circumstances must be “significant” or “substantial.” What this means is that the change in circumstances must be large enough to impact the child’s life at such a level that his or her best interests are no longer served by the current custody order. For example, suppose one parent must move to another city or state for his or her job. In this instance, the court might make allowances for the change, such as longer visitation or parenting times for the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent is the one moving, the court could change the entire custody arrangement.

Another example of a significant or substantial change in circumstances could occur when the current custodial parent adopts a lifestyle that is harmful to the child. Such a lifestyle might include drug addiction or alcohol addiction, although there are a number of other lifestyle changes that might qualify as well. In the same vein, if the non-custodial parent is engaging in harmful behaviors, the custody order could be modified to minimize visitation or require supervised visitation. If either parent exhibits abusive behaviors toward the child, this would definitely be considered a significant change in circumstances. It is important to remember that the significant change must materially impact the wellbeing of the child. Below is a list of the most commonly asserted changes in circumstances that warrant a child custody modification in New York:

  • Child abuse;
  • Child neglect;
  • A substance abuse problem on the part of either parent;
  • Any act of domestic violence by a parent;
  • Frequent moves on the part of the custodial parent;
  • A proposed move by either parent to another city or state;
  • Frequent failure to make the child available for visitation by the custodial parent;
  • A significant change in income on the part of either parent;
  • The loss of a job for either parent;
  • Remarriage on the part of either parent which materially affects the wellbeing of the child;
  • Changes in a job which would require frequent trips away from home for the custodial parent;
  • A serious medical condition for either parent;
  • An unstable home environment on the part of either parent;
  • Frequent job changes by the custodial parent;
  • Abandonment or neglect by either parent, or
  • The child, who is over twelve years old, is requesting a change in custody arrangements.

Is a Court Appearance Required for Modification of a Custody Arrangement?

When there are significant or substantial changes on the part of either parent, which requires a modification of the original custody agreement, the parent who is asking for the change must petition the court for a modification. As noted, the change must be in the child’s best interests, and the parent requesting the change must be able to clearly show the change of circumstances asserted. Parents who get along well and who came to their original custody agreement on their own might choose to simply work out an agreement among themselves.

While this could work as a short-term solution, there is a definite downside to such an informal agreement. Most importantly, should one parent decide he or she wants to revert back to the original agreement, without the court’s stamp of approval on the modification, the other parent has absolutely no legal standing to prohibit such a move. Because of this, it is almost always a better idea for parents to consult an experienced New York family law attorney and have the modification done legally. In the end, this is the only way to protect your rights.

Getting Help for a Custody Modification from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C.

Parents who are interested in a custody modification can speak to an attorney at The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. Attorney Katherine Ryan has the necessary experience and legal knowledge as well as the process involved to make a difference in the case. The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. vows to make any family law process transparent—in other words, Katherine wants to ensure that her clients never sign anything they do not understand, or accept a resolution that simply does not work for their family.

The attorneys at The Law Office of Katherine Ryan are in constant contact with each and every client, working hard to create a unique solution for each and every family that is not only long-lasting but one that reduces overall conflict as well. Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Stewart Manor, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Huntington, Melville, Woodbury, Commack, Smithtown, Syosset, Jericho, Roslyn, and Manhasset.   Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan today for all your family law needs.