When a couple divorces in New York there are many issues to resolve as they separate one life into two. This is true for the couple's property, finances and even their children. The couple will need a child custody and visitation order stating which parent will be making decisions for the children and when the children will be with each parent.
Custody determinations are made at the time of the divorce. This could be when the children are teenagers or it could be when children are infants. If the order was issued when the children were young, the children's needs will change and what was originally ordered may not be in the children's best interest as they grows older. Also, the parents' circumstances may change as well, necessitating a modification of the original child custody order.
In order to modify a child custody order the parent seeking the modification must be able to prove that there has been a change in circumstances and that a modification is in the best interest of the child. In order to determine whether a modification is in the best interest of the child, the court may look at a number of factors such as the fitness and stability of the parents, how they have cared for the child, their ability to provide for the child's future needs and the child's wishes if they are old enough.
Many parents in New York have child custody orders in place for their children. The circumstances may have changed since the time the original order was issued, and a modification may be necessary. Modifying a child custody order is a very fact-specific proceeding, therefore, the decision will be based on the individual circumstances of each family and child.
Source: New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, "In the Matter of Rhode v. Rhode" accessed on Feb. 15, 2016