When it comes to custody and visitation, life circumstances change. Parents always have the right to petition the court for a modification of child custody or visitation in New York. However, a modification is not automatic and a change in circumstances must be significant enough to warrant a change if the court is to approve the request.

When it comes to a child custody modification, the primary factor the court will consider is the best interest of the child.

What constitutes a change in circumstances?

Each family situation is unique, and the grounds for a potential modification will be carefully considered by the court. Common reasons for custody modifications include:

  • A parent would like to relocate for a job or to be closer to family
  • Changes in a busy schedule would seem to warrant a modification
  • A parent’s mental or physical health has changed in a way that significantly affects his or her ability to care for the child
  • Domestic violence issues arise
  • Substance addiction issues develop
  • A parent’s home situation has otherwise changed in a way that puts the child’s well-being at risk
  • The child has grown older and his/her needs have changed

Because these matters can be very sensitive, the standard for a modification is high, and the child’s best interests are at stake, it is always recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney prior to filing a petition for modification. A matrimonial/family law attorney can assess your particular situation and help ensure your best chance at success, whether you are seeking a modification or seeking to prevent one from happening.