There are times when a custody agreement is worked out between parents who are no longer together, and it benefits the children and the parents. Nothing stays the same, and what worked a year ago may need to be modified today in order to guarantee the child is able to spend time with both parents in a healthy and emotionally conducive way. Changes can be required due to any number of factors, such as career changes, one parent’s relocation, the child’s transfer to a new school, and more. The reasons for a child modification are many and here’s how to accomplish it in Rochester.

New York’s Two-Step Custody Modification Process

New York has a two-step modification process when it comes to custody and visitation for minor children.

The first step is outlining the changes behind the modification request. Something must have changed in the circumstances in order to justify the custody change request. Keep in mind that if both sides had agreed on custody already, but can no longer do so, that can be enough to justify a hearing. Your attorney can help you during this process.

Your child custody lawyer will need to know why the change is being requested, anything that led up to it and what the changes might look like in an ideal situation. The goal is to come to an agreement outside of the courtroom, but when that’s not possible, the courts can step in and take over the decision-making process.

Step One: Agreeing The Change In Circumstances Warrants A Hearing

If the courts agree that changes have occurred that should affect custody, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the best interests of the child. New York courts will look at which parent provides the best stability, what the home environments are like, how long the current custody arrangement has been in place, and whether one parent is better able or more willing to provide a more stable relationship and will encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent. Also, where each parent lives in relation to the custody modification in Rochester will be a factor.

Step Two: The Hearing

Depending on what happens and assuming the court agrees a hearing is warranted, the visitation, child support and other issues will be revisited and modified accordingly. Ultimately, the focus should remain on the child throughout the process and what will best serve his or her needs moving forward. Unless there are allegations of abuse, maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents will help ensure a well-adjusted and less-traumatized child. Also, keep in mind that at some point, the child will be able to voice their wishes of where they would prefer to live. This matters.

Whether you’re going through a divorce or have already divorced and need to change custody or modify visitation in New York, securing legal counsel who is experienced is the best thing you can do. These are the types of changes you want to get right the first time. A solid foundation and a healthy respect for one another as parents can provide an easier transition for the future if further changes are needed.

For more information, speak to our child custody attorneys.