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NYC Child Custody Modification Lawyers

There are times at which a visitation order or child custody arrangement can become inappropriate or impractical. When this type of situation occurs, you might be eligible to change the order’s terms and conditions. That said, before your visitation order or custody agreement can be modified, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements.

Child Visitation Orders Defined

Sometimes during divorce battles, parents have trouble coming to an agreement on custody rights. When this is the case, the court has the right to issue a custody order reflecting the child’s best interest. Two types of child custody are defined:

  • Legal custody is your parental right to make decisions for your child, including religious-based decisions, healthcare choices, and education choices
  • Physical custody refers to the time you spend in the same physical space as your child, making day-to-day decisions about parenting and domestication

The most typical arrangement is for the court to award joint custody to the parents. In some situations, one parent might be given sole legal custody of the child. Physical custody, unlike legal custody, does not tend to be evenly shared between the parents. Rather, one parent will be given primary physical custody of their child. Visitation rights are given to the other parent, with the possibility of supervision if the court deems it so.
Both parents must follow the terms of an issued child visitation order. But as time passes, these orders might become inappropriate or heavily burdened. The wishes and needs of the child might change as they grow older. Alternatively, one parent might move outside the state, which makes visitation impractical. When this is the case, there is legal recourse to modify the order.

Modifying an Existing Custody Arrangement or Visitation Agreement

If you want to modify a custody arrangement, your first step is to file a petition. The court may opt to modify the orders if:

  • Both parents are amenable to a modfication
  • The court approves the petition of one parent for the modification

With that said, courts tend to be limited in how they can modify existing custody orders.

Circumstances That Warrant a Custody Modification

To modify a custody order, you must provide proof that there has been a significant change in the circumstances. The following are examples of circumstantial changes:

  • The child’s developmental and emotional needs have changed
  • One parent has relocated or changed jobs, which is making current arrangements impractical
  • There’s evidence of domestic violence or child abuse
  • There are reasonable concerns about the security, stability, and safety of a parent’s home
  • The child is older and desires less or more time spent with a particular parent
  • One parent is clearly violating the current custody order

After the court has received the custody order modification petition, its job is to decide what would be best for the child. A modification is only made if the current arrangement isn’t in the child’s best interests anymore.
Custody order modifications should only be requested when absolutely necessary. The best approach is to negotiate a peaceful and voluntary modification by compromising with the other parent. Doing so can help you save potentially expensive legal fees. If the court rules that you have filed a petition with no merit, you might be ordered to pay for the expenses and legal fees of the other parent.

When Existing Custody Arrangements Are Violated

If the other parent of the child commits a custody order violation, there may be grounds for modification. You must make sure the violations are documented. Complete the following steps:

  • Call the police if the other parent seems to have kidnapped your child or refuses to return them
  • Tell child protective services or the police if you find evidence that child abuse has occurred
  • Report serious custody violations to your custody attorney
  • File petitions for contempt of court or custody modification

If you need to make a modification to your child custody arrangement, a NYC custody lawyer will be able to help.

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