Is Your Child Custody Agreement No Longer Working?
Child Custody Modifications
In parenting agreements, as in life, things are constantly changing; therefore, a once satisfactory custody or visitation agreement may need to be modified at some point. Alternatively, a party may seek to change a custody agreement because the other parent is either not taking advantage of their custodial or visitation rights, or the parent’s behavior may raise a cause for concern for the child’s safety, or for other reasons.
If you are seeking to modify the child custody or child visitation orders, the skilled attorneys of Jason Barbara & Associates, P.C. can help you ensure that your best interests, and those of your child, are represented.
Emergency Visitation Scenarios
If you suspect that your child is being placed in danger during a visitation, or being taken somewhere without your knowledge, you should call the police immediately. In this situation, you may need to seek an emergency court order. Dangerous situations include when a parent is leaving a child unattended, if a parent has illicit drug users or criminals around in your child’s presence, or if a non-custodial parent attempts or intends to relocate your child. In any of these situations, you will most likely need to file a petition with the court to change visitation, or in some cases to require the other parent to produce the child.
Visitation or Custodial Complications
If your child expresses a deep seated unhappiness when visiting with the other parent, you may have grounds to amend the order. Keep in mind, however, that absent exigent circumstances, the court likes to encourage a relationship with both parents.
Alternatively, if you are encountering arguments or other disagreements at the time of drop-off, you may want to establish a neutral safe drop-off location, such as a school, library, or police station. Additional options include supervised visitation with another trusted adult or court appointed supervisor.
When the Other Party Ignores a Visitation or Custody Order
This is probably the most common problem with custody or visitation agreements. If a party fails to obey a court order regarding custody or visitation, the complaining party may file a petition with the court alleging a violation of the order. After a hearing regarding the petition, the judge may order a change and/or impose sanctions on a party who has failed to comply with the order.
Modifying Your Custody or Visitation Order
When examining a request for a modification of a custody or visitation order, the courts will use a two-part test. The party seeking the modification must first demonstrate a change in circumstances since the last order was entered. After the party satisfies the court that there has in fact been a change in circumstances, then the party must prove that the modification is in the child’s best interest. In addition to filing the petition for the modification, the party seeking a modification must also show evidence that the hearing is justified.
Reasons for seeking a modification of custody or visitation may include:
- A parent’s desire to relocate
- Allegations of abuse or neglect
- The child’s age
- A parent can no longer afford to care for the child
- The child’s interests or activities change
- A parent’s job changes
- Non-custodial parent not using visitation time
- A parent becomes incarcerated
- A parent develops mental health or substance abuse problem
No matter how insignificant you feel the modification may be, it is in your best interests to consult an attorney. In addition to preparing your filings and arguing on your behalf at the hearing, an attorney can advise you regarding the best course of action for securing the visitation or custody modification that you want regardless of how long it's been since you split from the child's other parent or dissolved your marriage.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Establish Visitation
While it may be tempting to simply make a verbal or otherwise informal agreement regarding custody or visitation, keep in mind that these changes are not legally enforceable. You will not be able to petition the court to enforce an informal agreement.
Searching for an attorney for a child custody modification in Nassau County? At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., we have represented a multitude of clients and helped them obtain successful results. If you are seeking to modify your current visitation or custody order, our attorneys can counsel you through this daunting process.
Further reading: Can a Child Choose in a New York Custody Case?