Your children are the center of your life even when marital disputes threaten your involvement in their lives. Maybe you’re the mother who’s worried about the father, or maybe you’re the father worried about how the mother is raising your kids.
In both cases, you’re wondering if the father can take the children away from the mother. We already have a few posts covering family law and divorce proceedings, but in this post, we go over the fundamentals of parental custody, possible custody rulings, what to do if a parent won’t cooperate and how to focus on the best interest of your child.
The Basics of Parental Custody
After the court has made a decision about each parent’s custody of their children, it’s vital that each parent follow these mandates. If the court has given you majority custody and the other parent has agreed to the visitation hours, then the other parent has no legal right to take your child from you.
If you believe that the other parent should have reduced access to your child, it is possible to change your custody agreement. This may bring some complications depending on your situation.
Changing the Custody Ruling
Any parent, at any time, can make a motion to modify the custody or visitation order given by the court. It’s ideal for both parents to agree on these changes and submit them to the court for approval. If the other parent refuses to agree to the new terms, then the decision will have to be taken directly to court.
The court will hear the case if they believe that there is a reason for the changes in custody and will then perform a custody evaluation. This usually involves a social worker going to each home and monitoring the situation. If they decide that the custody order should be changed, then they’ll recommend the court to hear the case.
Looking for the Best Interest of the Child
In order to change the custody plan, you need to show the court that there have been major changes in the child’s or the other parent’s lives. You also need to convince the court that it is in the child’s best interest to modify the court order.
In general, the court looks for how the parents are currently taking care of the child and, if anything interferes with their ability to properly care for them, then that can help change the custody order.
Some examples of changing circumstances include:
- The parent’s work schedule has changed
- The parent is moving
- The parent’s financial situation has changed
- The child is older
- The child’s safety is at risk by being with the parent
- The family situation has changed
- The current visitation times are not being followed
You should also have hard evidence and documents for the point you’re arguing. For example, if the child’s class schedule has changed, you could bring a document from the school showing this change.
Just one of these examples can be enough to change the custody order. You’ll want at least two examples to give yourself the best chance of convincing the court to listen to your case.
What To Do if the Other Parent is Being Uncooperative
While most parents do have the child’s best interest at heart, sometimes a change in the parent’s life can put the child in danger. While you may have good reason to request a custody change, it’s difficult to get the case to court without the other parent’s cooperation.
You would still go through the same steps as listed above, but you would need to make sure the other parent is aware of your attempts to change the court order. You do this by “serving notice” to the other parent, also known as giving a copy of the initial motion. You both will either meet with a social worker or be required to attend a mediation where you both must attempt to reach an agreement.
In the case that you believe the other parent is breaking the initial custody order, either by keeping the child from you or not providing the agreed upon requirements, then you can file a motion for contempt.
This will force the other parent to attend court, where the judge will enforce the custody agreement if they believe the other parent is in violation of the order. This can also help your case of changing the custody agreement.
Before Acting, Consult a Family Lawyer
Most importantly, you should always consult a lawyer before taking any legal action in a custody agreement. The lawyers at Cravens and Noll are experts in family law and can help you reach the best terms for your children in a divorce case. Get in touch today!
Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. In a time of crisis, experienced trial attorneys can provide the solutions needed, at a reasonable price. Providing quality legal representation, our law firm will develop a comprehensive strategy based on your unique financial situation. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients, we will never give you false expectations about the potential outcome of your case. You can count on a realistic assessment of your case, in order for you to make a sound decision.