A young boy upset that his parents are fighting

What You Need to Know About Modifying Custody Agreements

Adapting With the Circumstances

Life changes can happen at any time — and with those changes comes the need to adapt to your new circumstances. For example, if you lose your job, you have to plan how to modify your current budget to meet your new situation as well as plan your time for job applications.

Similarly, co-parents that experience major changes in their lives may have to look at their custody situation. If the circumstances are serious enough, they may have to look into changing their custody agreement. Here is what you need to know about child custody modification in New York.

Seeking Court Approval

While it is possible to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse on an informal custody arrangement change, a more formal agreement through modification is a better option. In an informal agreement, it is easier for one parent to revert back to the original parenting schedule, and that informal agreement you made earlier can leave you with little legal recourse.

The best way to change your custody agreement is through formally seeking modification with a New York state judge. Your custody agreement is a legally binding document that must be followed, and seeking an official change better protects your right as a parent.

Circumstances Warranting a Change

If you want to change your custody agreement, you must be able to prove that your life circumstances have changed to a point that warrants a custody modification. Common reasons for seeking custody modification include the following:

  • Loss of a job.

  • A significant change in income.

  • Abuse or neglect that creates a harmful living environment for the child.

  • Remarriage of a custodial or non-custodial parent.

  • Abandonment by one of the parents.

  • Criminal behavior on the part of one of the parents.

  • A medical condition that warrants some form of change.

  • An agreed-upon change by the parents due to a change in location, finances, or health.

You must prove that a substantial change has occurred that is significant enough to render the previous custody agreement detrimental to the child’s overall best interests. New York law states that court-ordered custody agreements can change only when there has been a substantial change that causes a profound effect on the original custody agreement. You must be able to provide evidence that such a change has occurred and how that change harms the previous arrangement.

Seeking Modifications

In order to begin the process for modification, you must first file a Custody/Visitation Modification Petition with the New York courts. Only those who meet the following criteria are eligible to file this form:

  • You have a custody order signed by a judge in New York.

  • You are named in the custody order.

  • You are the parent of the child in question.

  • The child mentioned in the agreement is not in foster care.

Once the form is filed, the next step is to prepare evidence of the substantial change that warranted your petition. You must also justify that the change you are seeking is ultimately in the best interest of the child.

The judge presiding over your case can then determine whether or not a modification of your custody order is the best course of action and will protect your child’s best interests and well-being.

Utilizing Legal Assistance

Because child custody cases can be heated and complex, hiring an attorney to guide you through the process and fight for your parental rights can better serve you and your child. At Duke Law Firm, P.C., we pride ourselves in our professionalism and our ethical treatment of our clients and their cases.

If you believe your circumstances have changed and warrant seeking custody modification, do not delay in speaking with us. Call us today at (585) 449-4987 or fill out our form online to schedule a consultation.

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