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Custody agreements between parents lay out an array of details regarding a child’s upbringing, and most often include visitation schedules including holidays, co-parenting responsibilities, vacation schedules and more. But as children get older or parents’ situations change, it may be necessary to modify a custody order.
Generally, courts will modify custody orders if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was originally entered and when the best interest of the children involved are no longer being met by the current arrangement. It is up to the parent seeking to modify an order to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting a review.
A variety of situations may arise that indicate it may be time to modify a child custody order. For example:
In seeking modification to a custody order, parents should be prepared to show that a custody modification would be in the best interest of their children. Documentation that may be helpful in discussing whether or not a substantial change in circumstances has occurred include:
A child’s ‘best interest’
Once a change in circumstances has been established, the Courts will then go on to analyze what is best for the child(ren). As in all legal matters related to children, including custody, courts will consider the “best interest” of a child when making decisions. There is no standard definition of “best interest,” but it generally refers to the factors the judge considers when deciding what will best serve the child and who is best suited to take care of the child, according to the New York State Unified Court System.
Courts look to similar standards when evaluating custody modifications as they do in determining custody and visitation. For example, according to nycourts.gov, a judge will consider many factors when reviewing custody arrangements, including:
For more information about custody orders or to discuss whether you have grounds to modify an existing custody arrangement, it is advisable to seek a knowledgeable Family Law Attorney, who can help parents navigate the process.