If you and your ex-spouse have children, the court likely signed an order detailing custody and visitation arrangements when your divorce was finalized. Once an order has been signed, both parents are legally obligated to adhere to the terms of the order. However, if the arrangement specified in the order is not working for your family, you may be able to request the court’s approval for a modification of child custody/visitation.
Do both parents need to agree to the modification prior to requesting the court for approval?
No. In cases where both parents agree to the modification, the process can go much faster, as they can negotiate the terms outside of court and then file the petition for modification together for court approval. However, even in cases where when one parent opposes the modification, the parent seeking the modification can file the petition alone with the help of an attorney. The parent will then have to prove to the court that the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child. The other parent can also state their case to show why the modification would not be in the child’s best interest. Once the court has considered arguments from both sides, it will make the final decision.
What circumstances warrant modification?
Generally, New York family law courts will not grant modifications for trivial reasons. However, the court may grant your request for modification if:
- Custodial parent is seeking to relocate with the child.
- Child is being abused or neglected.
- Parent is failing to follow the initial order.
- Parent can no longer care for the child.
- Child’s best interests are not being met with current order.
If you are seeking a modification of custody, a family law attorney in your area can help. Once the modified order is signed by the judge, both parties must adhere to the new order.