NYC Child Custody Modification Lawyers
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Your custody agreement specifies who has legal and physical custody of your minor children, what type of visitation schedule the non-custodial parent must follow, and whether any third parties, such as grandparents or other close relatives, have any custody rights.
If the custody agreement is not working out for you or your children, it is possible to have the order modified by a judge. However, you must be able to demonstrate that there have been substantial changes in your circumstances before a judge approves such a modification. The Spodek Law Group can help you fill out the necessary paperwork and convince a judge that the proposed modification is in your children’s best interests.
Relocating with Minor Children
Relocation is one of the reasons a judge might grant a modification of your original custody order. For the judge to approve your relocation, however, you must demonstrate that relocating will not make it impossible for the other parent to visit your children. The judge also considers the reason for relocation when deciding whether to grant a modification. If you receive a job offer with a substantially higher salary or better benefits than you have now, the judge might be willing to approve a custody modification so your children can benefit from an improved lifestyle.
Custody Changes Based on Living Environment
Another reason you might want to modify an existing custody agreement is because you have concerns about your children’s living environment when they are with their other parent. It’s not enough to disagree with your ex-partner’s parenting style, however. You must be able to demonstrate that his or her choices have the potential to hurt your children physically or emotionally. If your ex-partner drinks excessively, uses illegal drugs in the presence of your children, or associates with people who have violent criminal backgrounds, you have the right to request a modification of your custody agreement. A judge won’t usually modify a custody order based on religious differences, but if your ex-partner’s religious beliefs are putting your children in harm’s way, the judge might make an exception. An example would be refusing to seek medical treatment for a sick child due to the belief that prayer is more powerful than medicine.
Watch carefully for behavioral changes after your children visit with your ex-partner. These changes don’t always indicate a problem, but they are a sign that you need to pay close attention to what is going on. Excessive crying, acting out, nightmares, anger, and withdrawal are some of the signs that there may be problems in your ex-partner’s home. Sleep disturbances or anxiety before a visit with the other parent may also indicate the need to request a modification of your custody agreement.
Altering Visitation Schedules
If your current visitation schedule isn’t working out, you can ask the judge to approve a new schedule. There are several reasons you might need to change your current schedule. If you previously worked during the day and now you work at night, you might need your ex-partner to take care of the children while you work. You can also request a modification if your ex-partner’s employment circumstances change or your ex does not follow the terms of your current agreement. Showing up late for one visit is not enough to justify changing your visitation schedule, but if your ex-partner frequently cancels visits at the last minute or shows up late for almost every visit, you can ask the judge to change your visitation agreement.
As children get older, their preferences tend to change. Judges are willing to consider a child’s preferences when deciding whether to modify a custody agreement, but the final decision often depends on the child’s age. A 10-year-old is probably not old enough to decide which parent he wants to live with, but a 16-year-old is capable of making this decision.
Death of a Custodial Parent
If a child’s custodial parent passes away, the original custody order must be modified. In some cases, the judge gives full custody to the other parent. If the other parent cannot provide a stable home for the child, the judge might grant custody to a grandparent, aunt, or adult sibling.
Voluntary Custody Agreements
If you and your ex-partner agree to change your custody agreement or visitation schedule, it’s still important to request a formal modification, even if the change seems to be working well. There’s always a chance your ex will want to go back to the original agreement, and you won’t have any legal recourse if you never asked a judge to make the changes permanent.
Custody Modification Paperwork
It’s important to hire experienced NYC modification of child custody lawyers to help you complete the paperwork required to make a change to your custody agreement. The paperwork can be confusing if you don’t have a legal background. Working with an attorney ensures you don’t make any mistakes that put your request in jeopardy.
If you have to go to court to discuss your modification request, the judge might ask you to bring witnesses who can verify any statements you’ve made. If you are concerned that your ex-partner drinks excessively while caring for your children, for example, you might need to bring a neighbor or acquaintance who has seen your ex drinking alcoholic beverages in your children’s presence. An attorney can help prepare witnesses for court so you get the best possible outcome.
Modifying a custody agreement may be necessary if you have concerns about your children’s well-being, or if you need to relocate to provide a better life for your kids. Don’t attempt to file the paperwork or prepare for court on your own. Hire an experienced NYC custody modification lawyer to guide you through the entire process.