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Requirements for modifying a child custody order

There are many decisions that parents in New York must make for their children as they raise them. This includes the day-to-day decisions, such as what they are going to eat or what activities they will participate in during the day. These decisions also include long-term decisions, such as what schools they will go to, what religion they will be raised in and medical decisions as well. When parents are divorced, which parent makes these decisions is governed by child custody orders.

Sometimes these child custody orders are implemented when the children are young. As people are well aware, both the parents and the children's lives can change over the years. What may have been in the best interests of the children when they were young may no longer be in their best interests as they grow older. Therefore, parents may need to modify their custody orders to accurately reflect the changes in the circumstances.

To do this, they must be able to demonstrate that there has been more than just a temporary or minor change in the circumstances. They must be able to demonstrate that there was a "substantial" change in the circumstances. But, doing that is just one-half of what they need to do. If they can demonstrate that part, they must also be able to demonstrate that the requested modification is in the best interests of the children. Both parts of the determination are very specific to the unique family situation and each case must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

It is very hard to predict the future for people in New York. They have to make adjustments in their lives to deal with the particular circumstances they are going through at any given time. This is true for raising children as well. However, it can be more difficult to adjust to changes when parents are divorced. Sometimes parents will need to ask the court to modify their custody orders when circumstances change.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Custody and Visitation" accessed on March 5, 2018

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