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When Can I Get My New York Child Custody Order Modified?

Posted by Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht LLP on June 7th, 2023

Split families are born out of necessity but rarely intention. Generally, we don’t enter a relationship with plans of separation, just like we don’t have a child with plans of not being around regularly.

These truths make child custody agreements hard to swallow for those who aren’t getting the time with their child they want and believe they deserve. Noncustodial parents in New York need to be cognizant of their own circumstances when considering potential modifications to their child custody order.

These orders are not final, in that they can be modified when the court sees a material and unexpected change in circumstances that impact your child.

Best interests of the child

Above all else, New York family courts will make decisions exclusively in the best interests of the child. This means there is no guaranteed formula to get better visitation or custodial rights as a parent.

When considering making changes in your life, prioritize your child. If you are found to be putting the interests of your child first, then you increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Location, location, location

It’s hard to have significant visitation as a noncustodial parent if you live a significant distance away. You aren’t required to live near your child to get some rights, but you open up the door to increased time if you live close to your child.

Location also dictates education opportunities for your child. Are you living in their current school district? If not, moving within the district could avoid any disruptions to their education. You could also earn favor with the court if you are living in a strong school district, which would serve their best interests as they grow and learn.

Preferences of your child

It helps if your child actually wants to live and/or spend time with you. The court will not automatically write a custody order based on what your child wants, but it’s certainly a factor.

This does not mean you need to spend all your time trying to be the “cool” parent. New York family courts know how to spot the difference between someone who is being a good parent and someone who is putting all their time and effort into getting their own child to “like” them.

Make time for their education, hobbies, and other growth opportunities when you have visitation with your child.

Financial changes

A significant change to either parent’s finances could trigger a child custody modification. If the noncustodial parent is now able to provide more for the parent, then they could be owed more time. If the custodial parent no longer has the means to support their child, then this could result in more time or custody for the current noncustodial parent.

Ultimately, the court will review all significant changes in circumstances that impact your child’s quality of life in considering a modification request. A request cannot simply be made just because time has passed – so make sure you are prepared when the right time comes. At Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht, our team of experienced family law attorneys can help you pick the right time to request a change to your New York child custody order. Contact us for a free consultation when you are ready.

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