Can Child Custody Be Modified?
The journey AFTER Divorce or Paternity Judgment.
There are many reasons why there might need to be a change of custody. The question is, how do you know if there is enough of a change to go back to court for a new parenting plan or a change in child support?
The biggest change would be a person who is moving far enough away that the custody schedule no longer works.
Obviously, once a child turns 18, there may need to be a change whether it is due to the child going to college or not continuing with post-secondary education.
There is one problem… it is not always so easy.
A move that causes a change of school can also be a reason to come back to Court. It is not a guarantee. Unfortunately, a Parent with educational and mailing address is not always held to follow the rules — an agreement based on JOINT custody which would require BOTH Parents to agree. It could be that there is not a change of schools but several moves within a short period of time. The Co-Parent feels the child does not have a stable environment and tries to get the Judge to agree. Often, the Court is not willing to make a change of custody based on a parent who is not providing a stable environment… at least that may not be enough. The standard the second time around seems to be much higher for a change educational and mailing address of the child.
The truth is, it is hard to know exactly if a change is warranted without discussing all the facts with an attorney. The Judge will look at the totality of the circumstances. The best thing you can do it making a list of all the issues between the Parties.
Are there issues where the Co-Parent makes all the decisions?
Are there issues with the child being late for school on a regular basis? Maybe not doing well in school?
Are there issues with one of the Parties not exercising their time?
Any issues of behavioral problems?
The attorney will go through many questions with you, but the biggest issue facing parents these days is Parental Alienation — one Parent keeping the child from the Co-Parent with an attempt to poison the child against the Co-Parent.
For the Court, it is often presented as a “chicken or the egg” argument. The Parent finds some way to create scenarios where the Co-Parent does not show up to visitations. They may change a weekend and have the schedule off so the Co-Parent is attempting to exercise their time on the normal weekend, but the Parent won’t allow it saying they are not coming on the correct weekend. Often is it based on the Co-Parent needing a change of weekend for some reason… and they may never get another weekend again. The Parent feels if the Co-Parent skips one weekend, they don’t deserve another. Then somehow there becomes additional reasons why the Co-Parent does not deserve time with their child. This can and will go on until the Co-Parent goes back to Court.
A Co-Parent facing Parental Alienation has a long road ahead of them. The attorney fees are going to be substantial. The emotional toll will be large. However, unless the fight goes back to Court, the Co-Parent will lose their child — maybe forever. It is time to talk to an attorney and it is time to find a Guardian Ad Litem (attorney for the child). It is also so important to find a mediator who specializes in High Conflict Co-Parenting. You will need a team who wants what is best for the minor child and fighting for the child to have two Parents to love them and spend time with them. The Co-Parent’s only hope at a relationship with their child is experienced attorneys who understand exactly what Parental Alienation is all about and that will work at exposing it.
In order to determine if you have a chance at a change of custody, talk to an experienced attorney.