How to Modify Child Custody in New York

When parents file for divorce, they must establish a child custody and visitation agreement and follow it once the divorce is finalized. However, since life can change over time, it is not uncommon for a custody agreement to no longer suit the needs of the family, which can lead to modifications in family court. 

The court will grant the modification of a child custody order if one of the following is true: 

  • A significant change in circumstances – Common examples include a change in marital status (i.e., remarriage), change in financial status (i.e., getting fired, demoted, a better paying job, or promoted), relocation, and or a change in the child’s health. 

  • The child is old enough – If the child is at least 12 years of age, he/she can decide which parent he/she wants to live with. 

  • The child is suffering from harm – Common examples include abuse, neglect, and abandonment. 

If a parent can show the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the final order was issued and that the modification is in the best interest of the child, a judge can change a custody or visitation order. To start the modification process, you must complete the forms for a “Petition for Modification of an Order of Custody/Visitation” and submit the petition either to the county court clerk or online. 

Both parents must decide to modify the child custody agreement. If one parent does not agree to the change, then a court hearing will be scheduled where both sides can argue their case and present supporting evidence.  

Since the outcome of a child custody modification request will have a substantial impact on your life and your children’s lives, it is important to hire an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights and best interests. At O'Brien & Wood, we have more than 25 years of combined experience providing our clients facing various family matters with compassionate and personalized legal services. 

Contact us today at (518) 240-9992 if you are interested in modifying your child custody order in Albany.