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Parenting Time Bullet Guide (Part 6): Modifying Orders and Evidence Time Periods

ParentsPark-300x200Parenting time and child custody cases often go hand-in-hand. Once a person has been granted primary custody over a child, the other parent in the case will often receive some type of order in terms of parenting and visitation time (if it is requested). This ensures the child can build or continue a relationship with both parents.

Of course, making decisions about how much time a child should spend with either parent isn’t always easy. Often, people will argue that an order should be modified if they feel something needs to be changed about the parenting schedule.

In today’s bullet point guide, we’ll be looking at the modifications that may occur in a case regarding child custody and visitation following accusations of parental alienation and interference. We’ll also be briefly looking at the evidence time period for a modification of custody and visitation orders in New York.

Alienation and Interference in Child Custody Modifications

When making decisions about how custody and visitation should be issued to each parent in a family environment, the court might consider which parent is more likely to encourage a continued relationship with the non-custodial or visitation parent. If the other parent attempts to alienate the child from their non-custodial parent, this can be a reason to consider a modification.

  • The prevailing view is it is usually in the best interests of a child to have a relationship with both parents. This means a court usually won’t look favorably on a custodial parent who attempts to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child.
  • In one case, a married couple from New York stipulated a child custody settlement that included joint custody of four children. The court granted a temporary application by the father to get sole custody for all children for a short time.
  • The appellate court reversed the decision, determining it was not in the best interests of the children, and the matter returned to a lower court to hear insights from a therapist. The father was given permanent residential and legal custody of the two daughters, and the mother appealed this decision.
  • The record for this particular case showed the mother had interfered in the father’s relationship with the girls in a way not determined to be in their best interests. The court also found the father was more likely to encourage a relationship between the mother and the daughters. As a result, the courts felt the father should become the custodial parent of the two girls, and the mother should have visitation rights. Each case is different, however, and any decision by the courts is supposed to be based on the best interests of the children.
  • For any parent who feels as though the other parent may be deliberately alienating their children from them, it is important to seek guidance from a reputable child custody attorney with experience dealing in visitation matters.

Applying for Modifications and Evidence Time Periods

In some cases, if a parent in a child custody case feels as though they’re not getting fair treatment in terms of visitation or parenting time, they can request a modification of the order. There are rules on how far back someone may go to present evidence of any changes to the circumstances that affect the order from the time of stipulation.

  • It is crucial to demonstrate substantial changes in circumstances following the issuing of a child custody and parenting time order for a modification to be considered. The court will consider all relevant factors to determine whether a change in circumstances has taken place. This includes whether the custodial parent is affecting the nature or quality of relationship a child has with the non-custodial parent during parenting time.
  • In a case known as the Matter of MMH vs William DH, the court considered a request from the mother for a modification that would give her sole custody and allow her to move to another state. The court considering the modification explained that when parents enter stipulations regarding custody and parenting time it cannot be changed other than when a substantial change of circumstances occur from the time of stipulation.
  • The court further explained that a parent wanting to relocate and therefore alter the visitation rights and abilities of the other parent may be able to show good reasons for moving. That parent would also need to demonstrate with evidence that it is in the child’s best interests to move. The court in this case looked back to the time when the father had his last unsupervised contact with the child for a determination.
  • The courts noted that the mother had assisted in ensuring the father had visitation time and had not interfered with the relationship the child had with their father. The court also reasoned that the original joint custodial agreement that the partners had agreed to had not become a reality at any point since the original stipulation. The father had limited contact with the child, and the court concluded a significant enough change had happened to modify the order.

If you need help with any of the topics mentioned above, you can find further guidance on this blog, or my website, including more guides with bullet point information like this one. If you have an issue about parenting time or visitation and you need to discuss modifications or arguing for a specific order in a child custody case, contact my office to get on our calendar for a consultation.  Up to the first thirty minutes of your initial consultation will be free.

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