Parents often seek a child custody modification after receiving an order that they are unhappy with. It is possible for parents to make informal arrangements outside of court, but to legally change the arrangement, both parties must go through the family court system and prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. A New York attorney can help you understand the process for modifying child custody and how to determine whether it may be in your best interest.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
A child’s needs can change over time and what worked when your child was a toddler might not work for him or her now as a high school student. For this reason, it is important to keep a close eye on changes and document them to ensure that you can make a case for why the current arrangement should be modified. However, proving that a significant change in circumstances has occurred is difficult and requires the help of an experienced child custody lawyer.
In addition to negative changes, positive ones can also justify a request for a modification. For example, if a noncustodial parent had an alcohol addiction and was frequently absent from the home, but has now been sober for two years and is holding down a job, this could be enough to justify a change in custody. In the same vein, if one parent is engaging in behaviors that put their child in danger, this can be grounds for a custody change as well.
Many courts have high standards for determining whether to modify a child custody order because they want to ensure that it will be in the children’s best interests. It is likely that the judge will look at all of the facts surrounding your situation, but will only consider a modification if you can meet the following two requirements:
The First Steps to Modifying Child Custody
To begin the process, both parties must file papers with the court clerk’s office, typically by way of an online form. There are usually filing fees that must be paid, but these may be waived for low-income parents. You will also need to serve the other party with a copy of the paperwork, and you will probably be asked to provide some kind of evidence that you met all of the requirements for filing the request.
The judge will hold a hearing to examine all of the evidence and determine what, if any, changes should be made. This will probably include testimony from both parents, as well as any experts hired by either party, such as a therapist or psychologist. If the judge decides that a change is appropriate, it will be ordered and will become effective immediately.
If your ex does not follow the orders, he or she can be held in contempt of court, and you will have a better chance of getting the child custody modification that you need. A seasoned Miami divorce lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of seeking a custody modification and protect your children’s best interests.