Appeals Court Finds Changes in Circumstances, Reverses, Awards Sole Custody

The case is Matter of Annette M.-L. v William L. and the trial court’s decision to dismiss the case was reversed.

The abbreviated facts: the parents had a Florida divorce order (2010) that included a provision for joint legal custody, the father consented to the mother and child’s relocation to New York (2013), the father scarcely visited until 2016 though the agreement between the parents provided for substantial summer visitation. In 2016 while on a visit, the father enrolled the child in school and the custody arguments ensued. New York kept the case after a hearing on that issue was held by the Florida judge (Florida court held that the father consented to the relocation and dismissed his petitions).

The New York trial court dismissed the mother’s petition after a hearing, finding there was no change of circumstances, but the appeals court held that the record supported three substantial changes that warranted a modification of the original order:

(1) relocation of the mother and child with the father’s consent which made the existing schedule impractical,

(2) the father’s decreased involvement in the child’s life, and

(3) deterioration of the parties’ relationship (vis-à-vis the child as demonstrated by the father’s attempt to enroll the child in school in Florida and subsequent physical custody dispute).

So there you go – just a few good examples of changes of circumstances that warrant modification of prior orders of custody and visitation.

Owner of the Law Office of Bryan Greenberg, PLLC

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