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When are you justified in seeking a custody modification?

Regardless of whether your existing child custody order was fought over in court or agreed to through settlement negotiations, there may come a time when you feel that the terms of that order are no longer appropriate. You might feel that your child’s safety and well-being is at risk, or that their best interests simply aren’t being as fully supported as they could be.

In these situations, you might consider seeking a custody modification. But before you take the plunge and file a motion with the court requesting as much, you need to make sure that you have the evidence needed to support your arguments.

When can custody be modified?

Under New York law, a child custody order can be modified if there’s been a substantial change in circumstances and the requested modification is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, while you’ll want to present evidence of a specific issue that demonstrates changed circumstances, you’ll also want to present a holistic picture of how those changed circumstances negatively impact your child.

Here are some major issues that may warrant a custody modification:

  • Parental substance abuse: If your child is exposed to drug or alcohol abuse while in the other parent’s care, then they can suffer a multitude of ramifications. This can include behavioral issues, decreased school performance, anxiety, fear, and an increased risk of being abused or neglected.
  • Domestic violence: Anger, aggression, and violence that’s displayed in the other parent’s home can also have a negative impact on your child. You may see your child exhibiting more aggressive behavior, and they may be riddled with guilt for being unable to protect the victim. Your child may demonstrate sleep difficulties and be unable to focus while in school.
  • Abuse or neglect: If your child is abused or neglected in the other parent’s household, then it’s clear that spending time there is harmful to your child and not in their best interest.
  • Loss of employment: Your child’s other parent needs to have the financial resources to be able to care for your child. If they suddenly lose employment, then they might be left without the compensation necessary to meet your child’s basic needs. If this happens, then a modification may be necessary to ensure that your child has what they need.
  • Changes in physical or mental health: A parent has to be physically and mentally fit in order to properly care for a child. If your child’s other parent suffers from an injury or illness that significantly impacts their ability to care for your child, then a modification might be necessary.
  • Parental relocation: If the other parent wants to move away for a job or some other reason, then you’ll want to carefully consider whether that move is in your child’s best interests. After all, it may be taking them away from their educational and social network, and it might reduce their opportunities to participate in family activities and school functions. If that’s the case, then you might be warranted in seeking a modification.

Do you need help crafting your argument for modification?

A custody modification may be necessary to protect your child. But the burden of proof is going to be on you to prove that the modification is necessary. Therefore, you need to know how to gather relevant evidence and present it in a persuasive fashion.

An attorney who has handled child custody matters before can help you do just that. That’s why if you suspect that a different custody arrangement is best for your child, then now may be the time for you to start discussing what you want with an attorney of your choosing.