Are you frustrated with your court-ordered child custody arrangement? As summer is approaching, you might want to spend more time with your children. While the agreement is legally binding, there are certain circumstances that might warrant a modification.
You cannot make a unilateral decision to change the child custody agreement, but you might be able to change it through a voluntary decision with your ex or with a court modification. Here is a guide to modifying child custody in New York.
Proving a change in circumstances
The first step is to show evidence that there is a significant change in circumstances to warrant a hearing. This might include a long-distance move, a harmful living environment or an improvement in your ability to provide a stable home for your children.
For example, if you were an alcoholic when the original agreement was ordered and were granted limited visitation, you might be able to prove you are clean and recovered and deserve more influence on your children. On the other hand, if your ex was able to provide a stable environment but has since moved a violent person into the home, your children may be facing a dangerous environment and should be removed from her custody.
Protecting the best interests of your children
If the court determines that your proof of a significant change in circumstance is adequate, it will analyze what modifications are necessary to serve the best interests of your children. Determining factors include:
- Respective home environments
- Level of stability
- Past parenting performance and fitness
- How much each parent wants to encourage children to have a healthy connection with the other parent
- How long the current custody arrangement has been in place
Hearings to modify custody and visitation can be complicated and contentious. Call on a divorce attorney for help throughout this process.