Changing Circumstances and Child Custody

Long Island’s Best Divorce Lawyer said this was an appeal of an order granting Petitioner Mother’s (hereafter Mother) application to modify a prior order of custody.  In this prior order, sole custody of the children was granted to the Respondent Father (hereafter Father) with visitation to the Mother.  The Appellate Division subsequently affirmed the Family Court’s modification which “granted the parties joint legal custody of the children, with primary residential custody awarded to the mother and specified parenting time to the father.”

The Mother alleged that the existence of substance abuse and domestic violence in the Father’s home had escalated to the point where police involvement was required.  The Mother also alleged that Father’s wife (hereafter the stepmother) had driven the children while “high.”  The Appellate Division found the Father’s home had “descended into chaos” as the result of alcohol and substance abuse, while the Mother’s household became a safe and stable environment.  A report of the Delaware County Department of Social Services (hereafter DSS) noted that the Mother no longer abused alcohol.  The report noted that the Mother was remarried and relocated to the children’s current school district.

The standard for the modification of a custody order is whether there has been a sufficient change in circumstances that “reflect a real need for change in order to insure the continued best interests of the children.”  The various factors a court looks at when determining whether modification is warranted include “the parents’ ability to provide a stable home environment for the children, the children’s wishes, the parents’ past performance, relative fitness, ability to guide and provide for the children’s overall well-being, and the willingness of each parent to foster a relationship with the parent.”  A Nassau County Family Law Attorney said that in this case the Mother made strides to improve her ability to raise the children.  She had remarried and was able to provide a safe, stable and nurturing home, and had “become more engaged with the children’s educational and medical needs.”

In the event, you wish to modify your custody order seek out the services of the experienced family law attorneys at Simonetti & Associates.