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Modifying Family Court Orders in New York: What You Need to Know

Family court orders, whether relating to child custody, support, or visitation, are designed to address the best interests of the child at a specific point in time. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances can change. In New York, individuals have the right to seek modifications to these court orders when significant changes occur. If you are requesting to modify a family court order, here’s what you should know:

Child Custody Modification

When seeking a modification to a child custody order, petitioners must demonstrate that the requested change is in the child’s best interests and that is a substantial change in circumstances since the last order. This may involve proving that a parent’s lifestyle or living situation has changed, affecting the child’s best interest. The court will carefully weigh factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their preferences, and any history of abuse or neglect.

Child Support Modification

Changes in financial circumstances often prompt requests for modifications to child support orders. Whether due to job loss, income reduction, or other financial challenges, petitioners must provide evidence of one of the three statutory changes that justifies a modification. It’s crucial to act promptly, as modifications are retroactive to the date of filing.  Child support can be modified if it is has been 3 years since the last order; there has been a 15% change of income or a change of circumstances.  However, it should be noted that a 15% reduction in income is does not necessarily guaranty a reduction in child support. Thus, it is important to speak to an attorney who can explain the issues in a support modification proceeding.

Visitation Modification

Modifying visitation orders involves proving a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the last order and it is necessary for the child’s best interest. This may include concerns about a parent’s behavior, a parent’s relocation, or changes in the child’s schedule. Courts emphasize maintaining a stable and consistent relationship between the child and both parents, so modifications must be justified by compelling reasons.  The Court’s generally prefer an order for which both parents have substantial time with the children.

Legal Process for Modification

Initiating the modification process involves filing a petition with the Family Court in the County in which the children reside. The court will then first schedule a conference to review the requested changes. In custody matters, an attorney will be appointed for the children.  Seeking legal counsel during this process can be instrumental in navigating the complexities of family law and ensuring the best possible outcome.

The process of modifying family court orders in New York requires careful consideration of the child’s best interests and substantial changes in circumstances. If you find yourself facing circumstances that warrant a modification, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can provide invaluable guidance. The attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP are here to provide legal support when you need to modify a family court order. We are experienced with negotiating agreements and litigating to get desired results.