Bronx Child Custody Modification
Child custody is determined when people are divorced, but as time goes by, situations change, and you may come to feel it is time to consult with a Bronx child custody modification lawyer. Be aware that the court is not going to modify custody just because you have had a change of heart, unless your ex-spouse agrees and the judge feels it is in the best interests of the child. If your child’s other parent does not agree to the custody modification, you will need to show a substantial change in circumstances that demonstrates to the Bronx judge that a change in custody is in the child’s best interests.Legal and Physical Custody
First, discuss with your Bronx attorney exactly what child custody modification you desire. There is legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the authority to make major decisions regarding the child. Physical custody is dependent on who the child lives with most of the time. Parents sometimes have joint legal custody, while one parent has physical custody while the other has visitation rights, though shared physical custody is possible.Substantial Change in Circumstances
One of the reasons that the Bronx and other New York courts require a substantial change in circumstances in order to modify child custody is to stop a continuing series of petitions which have the primary goal of harassing the custodial parent. It is also to filter petitions from noncustodial parents who have unreasonable expectations about how the custodial parent is raising the child. Unnecessary court actions take up the court’s time and are expensive both monetarily and emotionally for the custodial parent. This is why to even get in front of a judge, a party’s attorney must “make some evidentiary showing to warrant a hearing,” as described in Patricia C. v. Bruce L., 46 A.D.3d 399, 848 N.Y.S.2d 102 (1st Dept. 2007).Best Interests of the Child
A change in circumstances is just the gateway to child custody modification in the Bronx. To prevail at the hearing, their attorney must be able to prove that a custody modification is in the best interests of the child. A court will not disrupt a child’s life and routine without very good reason. The court will consider a number of factors you’re your Bronx child custody modification lawyer puts before it including
- Who has been taking care of the child and the length of time of the current custodial order
- Home environments of each parent
- Parenting skills and fitness to raise a child
- Any physical or mental health issues
- The child’s wishes, which are given more weight as the child gets older
- The willingness of each party to respect a visitation schedule and encourage a good relationship with the other parent
Here are some examples of circumstances that your attorney could put before a Bronx court on order to get a child custody modification hearing.
- A couple has joint legal custody, but they can never agree on major decisions about the child. They thought they could initially, but it has proven to be impossible. This should be enough to get a hearing on a change in legal custody.
- The custodial parent wants to relocate with the child. The noncustodial parent this will impact their relationship with the child, and that the move will be detrimental to the child due to other factors such as taking the child away from extended family, a close community, special schools, etc. The noncustodial parent could petition for a change of custody on these grounds.
- The noncustodial parent feels the custodial parent’s schedule has changed to the extent that they cannot spend enough time with their child.
- The custodial parent has started to drink excessively or abuse drugs.
You cannot automatically get a hearing to change custody, but if you think your circumstances or those of your ex-spouse have changed so much that it would be in the best interests of your child if your Bronx lawyer filed for child custody modification, consult with your attorney immediately. Your lawyer will need to put a well-reasoned case before the judge, because the courts do not modify custody lightly. The attorneys at the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the experience to provide you with the representation that you need. We have years of experience successfully representing clients who have custody, visitation, support and other family law issues. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.