The standard to go back to court to change a custody order or a support order is a significant change in circumstances. One can show a change of circumstances by showing change in living arrangements, new person introduced into the house such as a boyfriend or girlfriend, A child leaving reaching the age of maturity and leaving the household the child resides in. Any major change to the people in the household the child resides in can be used to show a change of circumstances. Obviously if a parents’ behavior changes and he/she become addicted to something that could be used as the change of circumstances necessary to go back to court.
Child support can be changed due to a change of circumstances as well. Should a child start spending significant time at the non-custodial parents’ home, that can be the basis for the necessary change of circumstances. Should a parent lose a job through no fault of their own, that can be a change significant enough to go back to court to change the Order of Support. The court will also consider the elapse of three years as a change to re-visit an Order of Support and a change of the non-custodial parents’ income by more than 15%.
New York State doesn’t have a set age like other states because New York believes each child is different. As a child grows, New York will allow the child to participate in where he/she wants to live and with whom. Generally after the age of 12, if a child knows with which parent the child wishes to reside with and has a well thought out reason, That will play a very significant role in what the Judge decides.
It is up to the Judge or Support Magistrate to determine whether or not there is a real change of circumstances that would allow the litigant to come back and modify the previous Order. Many times a judge will say that there is no significant change in circumstances. I normally tell people to wait the three years if I know the Judge doesn’t want to change their decision. Without a significant change of circumstance, the Judge would have to basically admit the previous decision was wrong. I make sure there is a proper change in circumstances before I file a petition for a change of custody. This requires honest communication with your client. Come see me and I’ll help you determine a proper change of circumstances that will allow you to go back to court.