The standard to go back to court to change a custody order or a support order is a significant change in circumstances. This can be shown through a variety of ways. People enter into new relationships, they take new jobs, unfortunately, sometimes parents engage in substance abuse that affects their relationship with their child. Any major change to the people in the household the child resides in can be used to show a change of circumstances.
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. Call me if you believe you have a significant change of circumstances and I’ll give you my honest opinion. I’ve tried my share of cases of teenagers who are miserable living with their custodial parent and a custodial parent keeping the child just so he or she doesn’t have to pay child support. I understand how to get the right teachers or friend’s parents to testify as to how the child’s miserable home life is causing real damage and why a change of custody may be in order.