Focused Guidance, Aggressive Family Law Advocacy

When is it necessary to change a custody order?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2022 | Child Custody

For families in New York, once the upheaval and emotional drama of a divorce proceeding are over, life will go on. What this will look like usually depends on what direction one or both parents are heading, whether it is a career change, a decision to change school districts, or a move out of state.

While a court order will reflect the situation of the family at the time of the divorce, including custodial priorities and the financial condition of each spouse, these circumstances will likely change over time. These life events may require a change in the divorce settlement through a post-decree modification.

For Long Island and Suffolk County residents, it will make sense to find out what issues may arise that could affect parenting time or support payments when one party requests a modification, so that any change will address both the children’s needs as well as the parents’ rights.

What is best for the children?

A post-decree modification will always prioritize what is in the best interest of the child. Every state has different standards that will determine the best arrangement for children of divorce. In New York, the court will look at significant factors when issuing a modification order, including:

  • the reasons each parent has for requesting or objecting to a change.
  • the relationship of the child to each parent.
  • how the move may impact the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent.
  • how a move would affect the child’s emotional or educational wellbeing or would financially benefit the custodial parent.

If one parent must leave the state, or if the custodial parent’s move interferes with the other parent’s visitation schedule, it would likely be necessary for the parent initiating the change to request both the modification and the other parent’s permission.

What is involved in modifying a custody or visitation order?

In New York, once the couple is legally separated or divorced, they may file a motion to review the existing terms of the divorce settlement and request a change. One or both parents may request a modification of a court order for visitation or custody due to job or family relocation, change in financial condition of a parent, or drug or alcohol addiction or recovery issues.

During this post-decree litigation, the parties may be in disagreement over the terms or proposed changes to the divorce decree. It may be challenging for one parent to be able to change a court order if the other parent objects to it, so the relocating parent must show that this substantial change in circumstances requires a modification that is in the best interest of the child.