Sometimes things do not go as planned and the most unexpected outcome or least desirable outcome is what ends up happening. But there are ways around this! In some states, you are able to file a petition to modify a child custody agreement according to a family lawyer with our friends at Brandy Austin Law Firm. Down below there is a Q&A to get a better understanding what is allowed and what isn’t.
What if my child and I live in different counties?
Most likely, you will need to go to the same court that issued the order. However, if your child moved to another state or another county and it has been over six months, you would have to file it in the court that is in your child’s jurisdiction.
Can I change a court order without going to court?
No. If you have a court order, only a judge can change it.
Can I stop following the existing order when I file my petition?
No, even if your petition is being considered that does not mean that you no longer have that court order. Your existing court order will remain in effect until a judge signs a new order. If you stop following the court order, you could face penalties that will not help with your modification case.
Who can file a modification case?
Either parent may file to modify an existing order. Whoever’s name is on the original order can also file a motion to modify.
I’m a grandparent, can I file a modification case?
If you are a relative of the child, you can file for modification if the child’s parents or guardians are deceased. Under some state laws, there is no automatic right to grandchildren however, grandparents have the right to seek managing conservatorship by filing a lawsuit and may only intervene if the child’s living conditions would significantly harm them emotionally or physically.
Do I need a lawyer to help with my modification case?
You do not have to have a lawyer but it is recommended that you have a lawyer to help you understand your rights and options. You can hire a lawyer just to give you advice but does not represent you.
How long would a modification case take?
It depends. Hopefully, everyone agrees to the changes and signs the necessary paperwork. You can have a judge sign an agreed order and it can be finalized within the next two weeks. However, if it is contested, which is when people do not agree with the changes you want to make, then it can take a significant amount of time.
When can I submit a petition and what do I need?
Usually, you must wait one year before going back to change primary custody. You can only file a modification case to change primary custody within one year of the current custody only if
1. The person with primary custody agrees to your arrangement
2. The child’s environment may endanger the child’s health either physically or mentally. It also can be if the child’s development will be harmed if they continued living in the environment with the person who had primary custody.
3. The person who has the primary custody has someone else have primary care and possession of the child for at least six months. (Does not count if active duty). If any of these allegations are true, they must be supported by facts and you have to write those specific facts in a declaration form that is attached to your “Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship” which is the form you are going to want to file if you would like to modify the court order.
If you want to file a petition to modify the custody, you should always talk to an attorney to make sure you understand your rights and what you are getting into. Everyone should be aware of what their rights are and what’s the best way to handle this type of case.