When to Request a Custody Modification

Understanding the Grounds for Modification

Over time, situations and needs change, and a custody order that once seemed ideal may no longer serve a child's best interests. It could even become an undue burden, adversely affecting the child's and their family's well-being. When such circumstances arise, either parent has the legal right to pursue a custody modification with the courts to address these changes.

The two primary grounds for requesting a custody modification in New York are:

  • The best interest of the child: Any changes to the custody arrangement must foremost benefit the child's welfare and development.
  • A substantial change in circumstances: There must be a significant change from the original conditions that formed the basis of the existing custody order.

Recognizing Substantial Changes

A substantial change implies a long-term alteration in living conditions or parental circumstances that significantly impacts the child's life, rendering the existing agreement outdated, incapable, or improper.

Various situations may qualify as a substantial change, including:

  • A parent's job loss or significant career advancement alters income levels.
  • Relocation of a parent that would affect visitation schedules.
  • Altered needs or costs associated with raising the child as they grow.
  • Marked changes in the child's health or educational requirements.
  • Incidents that undermine a parent's ability to offer a safe and stable environment.

What About Child Support Modifications?

Similar to a child custody modification petition, there are conditions under which the courts will also consider a child support modification. However, these conditions are somewhat more limited.

A court may consider modifying a custody order under the following conditions:

  • It has been three years since the order was last reviewed or modified,
  • There has been a substantial change in the cost of raising the child or in a parent's income, or
  • A parent has experienced an involuntary income change of at least 15%.

The Modification Process in Nassau County

A parent must file a petition with the court to initiate a change to a custody or support order in Nassau County. As part of this petition, the petitioner will have to (as discussed above) demonstrate that the requested change is in the child's best interests and that a significant change has occurred to necessitate the change. This often involves gathering and submitting various documents and evidence to support the claim and may require attending a court hearing.

Though you are not required to work with an attorney on a custody modification request (the NY courts do have a DIY process), having representation during this process is strongly encouraged.

An experienced attorney can help with several tasks, including:

  • Providing a comprehensive assessment of your case
  • Helping you clearly articulate the necessity of your request
  • Drafting and submitting all necessary paperwork on your behalf
  • Representing you in court, should the process require a hearing

Furthermore, if your co-parent disputes the modification request, your attorney will be there to provide you with legal guidance as you work to resolve the matter.

Custody modification cases are delicate and require a knowledgeable and compassionate approach. At the Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C., we are committed to supporting you through this intricate process and advocating for your child's welfare.

Contact us today to discuss your circumstances, and we'll explore your options together.