Generally, courts in New York prefer not to change custody. However, if there has been a substantial change of circumstances, which based on the totally of the circumstances requires a change in custody, courts will modify the custodial agreement.
In determining whether there has been a “substantial change of circumstances,” courts in New York take a “case-by-case” approach and pay particularly close attention to the unique facts and circumstances. Although the standard is highly fact-specific, there are several examples of what constitutes a “substantial change of circumstances.”
First, New York courts have found a substantial change of circumstance where the “custodial parent” (the parent with primary custody of the child) is moving outside of New York State and the move will make it almost impossible for the non-custodial parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.
Another example New York courts recognize is where the parent with custody of the child has been engaging in activities that may be considered harmful to the child. This could include the custodial parent leaving the child unattended during the evening while the custodial parent is out with friends or even working at a job with midnight shift hours.