Wondering what reasons a judge will change custody?
Maybe you’re trying to get more child custody.
Or you’re worried about losing child custody.
On the topic of reasons a judge will change custody, you’ll learn:
So, let’s dive right in.
Custody can be devastating. It’s heartbreaking when parents lose custody of their children. Spouses end up having to pay agonizing amounts of financial support.
If you want to protect your rights, not wrongfully lose custody, and not get raked over the coals financially, fill out the form below. Free consultations are first come first serve. We always run out of slots. Make sure you get yours locked in now.
One of the biggest reasons a judge will change custody is if the child is in danger.
One of the key considerations is whether there is domestic violence in the home.
Domestic violence does not have to be directed at the child to affect child custody agreements.
The judge may make child custody modifications if one parent has a history of domestic violence.
The courts are concerned that the parent with a violent past may harm the child.
This is true even if the parent has never harmed the child before.
A history of domestic violence poses a danger to the child.
For this reason, the judge may make modifications to child custody agreements.
You’re probable wondering, “What is a contempt of court order?”
A contempt of court order means that someone knowingly fails to obey a court order.
This situation can look like, but is not limited to:
If this is the case, you can file for child custody modifications.
Before you file for child custody modifications, you’ll have to:
What happens if there’s a custodial parent not following court orders?
It’s a serious matter when there’s a custodial parent not following court orders.
A parent can be held in contempt for not following the custody agreement.
This is one of the reasons a judge will change custody.
And, worst-case scenario, a parent can end up in jail.
If the other parent is not following the custody agreement, talk to your child custody lawyer.
It’s important that you gather evidence proving contempt of parenting plans.
When you file a petition to modify the parent-child relationship, you will need proof.
(More on that below.)
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
Fathers not following parenting plans causes stress for the parents and children.
A father not following the parenting plan is another one of the reasons to lose custody of a child.
The mother will be able to file a motion to modify child custody.
In extreme cases, the father can face jail time.
But the most common outcome of fathers not following parenting plans is child custody modifications.
Wondering what is the punishment for contempt of court in family court?
Contempt of court orders can result in:
If there is contempt of court in family court, the courts will let them amend the violation.
Most of the time, allowing the other parent to make up missed visitation is enough.
If there are repeated offenses, a judge will change custody or order jail time.
Withholding a child from another parent is a strategy some parents use for leverage.
They will withhold a child from another parent to get child support or out of spite.
Records of missed visitation should be kept as evidence.
When one parent is withholding a child from another parent, they should request make-up time with the child.
If the parent refuses to reschedule missed visitation, it’s time to hire a family law attorney.
But what should you do if the mother won’t let the father see the child?
If the mother won’t let the father see the child, you should call the police.
But remember, the police will not enforce child custody.
What you’re going to do is provide the police with the child custody agreement.
This proves to them that you have visitation rights.
They are going to fill out a report, giving you a legal record of visitation interference.
But if the mother won’t let the father see the child, the cops cannot get further involved.
It’s a civil matter that they cannot interfere with.
But sometimes they will show up to prevent domestic violence.
You will provide your family law attorney with a copy of the police report.
When proving contempt of a parenting plan, there are four things you need to prove.
It probably seems dumb that you have to show the courts that THEY issued a court order.
But they will still want you to show them the court order signed by the judge.
It’s also pretty obvious that the other parent knew about the custody order.
You will still have to provide proof showing that they knew about this.
It can be signed custody agreements, emails, texts, etc.
When it comes to their ability to follow court orders, it gets tricky.
Let’s say their car broke down and they were out of state.
How will you prove that this did or did not happen?
Make sure you can prove that they had the ability to follow through with the custody agreement.
Especially when proving contempt of parenting plans.
One parent considering relocating “a good distance” is a reasons a judge will change custody.
Before they make modification of custody, they will take into consideration:
If one of you is moving, let’s talk about how to change jurisdiction for child custody.
When you are relocating, you may want to change the jurisdiction for child custody.
Imagine that you filed for divorce in Georgia and everything was settled in Georgia.
Then, one year later, you got a new job in Seattle.
If the Georgia family courts have jurisdiction, then you have to come to Georgia for any child custody issues.
In this case, you may want to figure out how to change jurisdiction for child custody to Seattle.
This way, if there are any child custody disputes, you can go to your local courts in Seattle.
If you have a custody order and you move to another state, you have to return to the original state for child custody modifications.
So, let’s talk about how to change jurisdiction for child custody.
The first thing you need to know is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has two main components:
This is basically saying that no matter where you move, the child custody orders are in full effect.
This is why, if you move, you need to figure out how to change jurisdiction for child custody.
To change jurisdiction for child custody, you’ll need to file a petition for child custody modification.
This modification of custody will ask for the courts to change jurisdiction.
Related: Cost of Divorce
If both parents and the child have moved out of state, then the child’s home state assumes child custody jurisdiction.
But you will still have to file a petition to change jurisdiction for child custody.
If only one parent has moved, along with the child, then it’s a little more complicated.
There has to be a significant reason to change jurisdiction for child custody.
The courts generally won’t grant a jurisdiction change for relocation alone.
The courts take into account which state the child has greater ties to.
For example, if you moved for a job relocation, but the extended family is in the original state.
In this case, the ties to the new state are low and a jurisdiction change will probably not be granted.
But if you moved for better specialized medical care for the child, then the ties are higher.
You will need to consult a family law attorney to help you change jurisdiction for child custody.
With all of this jurisdiction nonsense, you might be wondering…
Can I move out of state with my child without father’s permission?
You can move out of state with your child without the father’s permission if:
In this case, you do not need court permission to move out of state without the father’s permission.
But the father can:
If the child’s home state is still where the father lives, then that state has jurisdiction.
But if the child has met the residency requirements for a new home state, then the jurisdiction is in the new state.
Residency requirements are usually 6 months.
You should speak with your local family law attorney to figure this out.
Related: Uncontested Divorce
Wondering can a parent take a child out of state with joint custody?
The short, easy answer is “it depends.”
Don’t you love lawyers?
It depends on what you’re taking them out of state for.
Moving out of state with joint custody is different than going on vacation.
Most of the time, the child custody agreement explains what you can and cannot do.
Or, they could give you instructions on HOW to travel.
Or how to provide proper notice of travel.
You should always document conversations that you have with your ex about traveling.
If they get a wild hair, they can claim that you are kidnapping the child.
You want to have proof that they know and agreed to, you taking the child out of state.
If there is no custody order in place, you can take the child.
If the parents were never married, then the mother has full legal and physical custody.
In this event, the father does not have the right to take the child until he gets awarded custody.
If there is no custody order in place, the parents share physical and legal custody.
Each parent has the right to take the child as if they were still married.
Considering moving out of state with child no custody agreement?
You are legally allowed to move out of state if there is no custody agreement.
The only reason you would not be able to move out of state is if the child was born in a marriage.
Both parents have equal rights when the child is born during marriage.
This means that if the parents separate, but there is no custody order in place, you still cannot move out of state with the child.
Related: Dissolution vs Divorce
When it comes to how far can a parent move with joint custody, 50 miles is the cutoff.
If one parent moves more than 50 miles away, they must come to an agreement with the other parent.
Both parents have to agree on:
If you want to get the court’s approval, then both parents need to agree on this.
For best results, create and agree on a new schedule for visitation and child custody.
If you and your ex can provide your agreed-upon adjustments, the courts will approve it.
If you and your ex cannot come to an agreement, you may have to get a family law attorney involved.
Let’s talk about the next reason a judge will change custody – death of a parent.
When a parent dies, this is obviously a reasons a judge will change custody.
But who receives child custody when a parent dies?
Is it the other parent?
Do the grandparents have custody rights?
Here’s a list of people who can potentially get child custody after the death of a parent:
If a custodial parent dies, a child custody modification is necessary.
The courts have to decide whether:
The courts always make child custody decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the child.
They like to give the non-custodial parent full custody when it makes sense.
They believe this will cause the least amount of strain on the child’s life.
There are a few reasons why the courts would not let the non-custodial parent have full custody:
The most common third party to receive full custody after the death of a parent is:
What happens to child custody if both parents die?
If the parents have appointed a guardian in their will, then that person will take custody of the child.
But if there are no guardians appointed, then the courts will make the decision.
Any relative can file a petition to get custody of the child.
The courts will take the following into consideration when determining third party child custody:
Another reason a judge will change custody is if a parent’s situation has changed.
This can be a positive or negative change.
For example, let’s say that one parent lost child custody due to addiction to alcohol.
If they attend addiction courses and prove that they have cleaned up, they can file for child custody modification.
To request a modification to child custody, you will have to prove:
But, on the flip side, negative changes are reasons a judge will change custody as well.
Reasons to modify child custody include if a parent happens to:
These are not the only child custody modification reasons.
They are just examples of reasons to lose custody of a child.
If you’re trying to figure out how to prove a parent is unfit, you want to make sure they are.
If you’re in the middle of the divorce process, don’t start making false accusations.
After reviewing the laws, start gathering evidence that the parent is unfit.
Examples of evidence of unfit parents include:
Now that you have proof, let’s talk about how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother (or father).
After you have compiled the evidence to prove an unfit parent, file the paperwork.
You’ll want to file a petition to modify the parent-child relationship.
When you file the motion to modify child custody, add your reasons to modify child custody.
After this, serve your ex with the papers.
After you have served the papers to the unfit parent, you can schedule a hearing.
In the hearing, you will present all the evidence proving the other parent is unfit.
If you need help figuring out how to prove a parent unfit, contact a child custody lawyer.
Some unfit mother examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
The family law courts take into account the parent’s emotional and physical stability.
They want to make sure the child is raised in a stable environment.
Children thrive when they know what to expect and have routine.
Judges know that a child’s emotional stability is heavily influenced by a parent’s.
So, they will make sure that the parent does not have major instabilities.
Related: Divorce as a Stay at Home Mom
For examples of physical instabilities, think:
The judge is going to do what’s in the best interests of the child.
If there is major instability in a parent’s life, it’s one of the reasons a judge will change custody.
Child abuse does not have to be serious to be a reason a judge will change custody.
Any activity or behavior that threatens a child’s well-being is considered abuse.
But neglect is another form of child abuse.
Neglect is when a parent refuses, or fails to, provide for a child’s basic needs.
This includes not bathing, feeding, or providing medical care.
If you are trying to prove child abuse or neglect, you’ll need more than circumstantial evidence.
For modification of custody agreements, you’ll need witnesses or medical records.
Witnesses can include:
An emergency custody hearing discusses child custody issues that pose a risk to the child.
Emergency custody hearings get held almost immediately.
In emergency custody hearings, the judge makes decisions in the best interest of the child.
In general, a parent can seek emergency custody when the other parent poses a threat to the child.
Here are some reasons for emergency custody:
The reasons for emergency custody must be true emergencies.
If the other parent is posing an immediate risk to the child, then it’s a reason for emergency custody.
And there is a very good reasons a judge will change custody.
It is not usually considered emergency custody if the other parent:
When it’s not a reason for emergency custody, you’ll have to file a normal modification for child custody.
This child custody modification hearing will take a few weeks to occur.
Let’s talk about how to file an emergency motion to modify child custody.
Filing an emergency motion to modify child custody is pretty serious.
And legitimate emergencies are strong reasons a judge will change custody.
You usually file an emergency motion to modify child custody when there is an urgent issue putting the child at risk.
To file an emergency motion, have your family law attorney fill it out.
They will submit it to the family court that has jurisdiction over the child custody case.
After filing an emergency motion to modify child custody, you’ll have a hearing within 24 hours.
The other parent does not have to attend the hearing.
This emergency custody hearing is for you to explain the emergency circumstances to the judge.
After hearing you out, the judge will decide whether to issue an emergency custody order.
If they do issue an order, there will be another hearing in three weeks.
This hearing is when both parents show up.
They each are able to present their case to the judge.
The emergency hearing will get extended or terminated at this time.
You can change a custody agreement without going to court if both parents agree on it.
To change the custody agreement without going to court, file the modification of child custody as normal.
But in the modification, include the proposed agreement that you and your ex have.
In this case, you will have to show up to the court to change a child custody agreement.
There are potential negatives of changing a custody agreement without going to court.
If you change a custody agreement without going to court, it’s not enforceable.
This is because the courts can only enforce an order issued by the judge.
If the other parent decides they don’t feel like honoring the new custody agreement, then they are able to.
If the custody agreement was not legally modified by the judge, then they are not enforceable.
The other parent can overstep their boundaries easily.
Without a court-ordered custody agreement, they can start asking for the kids on extra nights.
It’s easy to think, “I’ll just say no,” or “that won’t happen.”
But what if it does?
The custody agreement will not be enforceable.
Either parent can really do what they want.
Next, let’s talk about how to win a custody modification case.
What’s the basis for a child custody modification case?
There are two main reasons a judge will change custody.
Major reasons to modify child custody include:
Minor reasons to modify child custody include:
For these minor reasons, a single occurrence does not lead to child custody modifications.
Repeated, documented offenses are reasons a judge will change custody.
Whether the issues are minor or major, document as much as possible.
To win a custody modification case, you will need to provide evidence for a modification of custody.
Next, let’s talk about the reasons to lose custody of a child.
You’ll want to know these whether you are proving or defending child custody modifications.
We’ve discussed reasons a judge will change custody.
But what about the reasons to lose custody of a child completely?
Will changing custody result in loss of child custody?
It is possible.
Here are the main reasons to lose custody of a child.
Again, no matter what the reason is, you need proof.
The best proof is video.
It provides a visual and audio of the other parent that’s hard to deny.
Related: Common Law Marriage
Other forms of proof include:
No matter what proof you have for reasons to lose custody of a child, give them to your family law attorney.
Your family law attorney will know exactly what needs to be done to modify child custody.
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