How Common Are Modification Requests To Child Custody And Child Support Matters?

Modification requests to child custody and support are quite common. In New York, child support modifications are becoming more common because the law was changed in 2010 to make child support generally modifiable once every three years, or if there has been a 15% change in someone's income. Before 2010, the law was that support could only be changed if there was a substantial change in circumstances. The change in the law has made modification cases even more likely.

Even with custody and visitation matters, the child will age and circumstances will change. A lot of times, people go through custody cases or visitation cases when the child is a toddler or a baby. Once the child becomes school-age, things have changed and access time may need to change to match-up with the child's changed circumstances. Unfortunately, for many people who start out with conflict, the conflict never really goes away. It can rear its ugly head at any time.

Under What Circumstances Can Custody And Visitation Orders Be Changed In New York?

The standard for changing a custody or visitation order is simply a "change of circumstances", which is to be distinguished from child support cases, where the standard is generally a "substantial change of circumstances." In custody and visitation cases, it's a much more relaxed standard. It is also a vaguer standard than child support because it's governed by the "best interests of the child." What the court is really looking to in determining whether there has been a sufficient change in circumstances is whether one party's circumstance or the other plays enough of a role to warrant a revisiting of the custody or visitation arrangement.

Under almost no circumstances can a judge make an initial custody determination without a trial. The law is clear, however, that a judge does not necessarily have to conduct a trial for a modification. If an examination is conducted and a judge can make the determination of whether a modification is warranted or not, then the judge would be correct in the law to not order a trial. Otherwise, a trial is also required in a modification case, particularly if the matter cannot be determined on affidavits, reports and through oral argument alone.

What Qualifies As A Sufficient Change In Circumstances When It Comes To Custody?

There can be a variety of circumstances under which custody can change. For example, one party moves far away from the other party. Or, one party develops a drug or alcohol issue, when they didn't have in the original case. Maybe one party neglects the child in some way or abuses the child. Another basis for change of custody would be if the custodial parent moves into an unstable household or a dangerous neighborhood. If the custodial parent moves the child around into multiple households, that can be a basis for a change in custody.

Mental health is an issue that the court is going to look at, so if at the inception of the case, the custodial parent had a mental illness that was under control and then it got worse, that can be a basis for modification. Even things such as the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent becoming involved in criminal activity, or if they are either the victim of or perpetrator of domestic violence may be a basis for modification of custody.

For more information on Modifications in Child Support & Custody, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (914) 368-7580 today.