Can You Challenge An Existing Child Custody Order?

When a court determines who a kid should live with, it will enter a child custody order. This is an official declaration of which parents will have what rights relative to the child. It carries the full force of the law.

People often wonder if there's any way to challenge a child custody order. Whenever people ask about the possibility, a child custody attorney will look at the following aspects of the situation.

Time Since the Original Order

Your strongest and simplest argument for revisiting the terms of a child custody order is that a significant amount of time has passed. Consequently, your argument to the court is simply that lots of things have changed in the meantime. Therefore, a judge should reconsider and modify the terms to better match the current circumstances of both parents and the child.

Suppose one parent came out of the original hearing looking pretty bad. If they had a drug problem at the time and had a demonstrated history of neglect, the court would've been well within its rights to severely restrict the parent's custody rights. However, several years have passed, the parent has gone through counseling, and they've demonstrated the ability to maintain a clean, safe, and structured household. This is an ideal scenario for revisiting the original order because the court should consider if the parent has improved enough to deserve better visitation and perhaps partial custody.

Notably, courts almost never re-hear cases right after decisions. Maybe you have a solid appellate case, but that's a different task than going to your county's family court seeking a custody order. In that scenario, the petitioner is claiming that the court got a major point of the law wrong. A successful appeal is an unlikely scenario to play out in most cases.

Sudden and Serious Change in Circumstances

An argument for an immediate injunction and review is if there has been a sudden and serious change in the circumstances. Suppose the primary custodial parent decided to move out of state with the child. The move could deny the other parent access to their kid. Consequently, a court would like to grant an injunction preventing the move and order the child's return to the state of origin. In the absence of compliance, the judge may order the police to recover the child.

The death, long-term disability, or absence of either of the parents could also require changes to the child custody order. A surviving parent could seek primary physical custody, even if there are other family members interested in filling the parental role.