Tips for defending against a child custody modification request

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Custody |

Even when a child custody order at first seems appropriate, it can quicky become risky for your child’s well-being. In those instances, you’ll want to consider seeking a modification that results in an arrangement that better supports your child’s best interests. But what about when the other parent files a child custody modification request seeking to restrict your time and access to your child? What are you to do in that situation?

What you certainly shouldn’t do is sit back and let the other parent run the show. While you might be able to negotiate a new child custody arrangement that is fair for everyone involved and protects your child’s well-being, there’s a good chance that you and your child’s other parent won’t be able to come to an agreement. When that happens, you need to be prepared to defend yourself in court.

How can you defend against a motion to modify child custody?

Before the court will grant a motion to modify custody, it has to be convinced that there’s been a material change in circumstances. That can be a high bar to clear, but you’ll still want to be prepared to defend your parenting abilities and the custody order that’s in place. Here are some ways you might be able to do that:

  • Contextualize the other parent’s arguments: The other parent might lob all kinds of arguments at you. Some of them, such as social media posts depicting you enjoying a glass of wine at dinner, can be taken out of context and extrapolated to make you look bad. Do your best to put these arguments in context if doing so will minimize the power of the other parent’s arguments.
  • Focus on the other parent’s abilities: While the focus of the motion is going to be on you and your alleged shortcomings, you can flip the script and shine a light on the other parent’s parenting abilities. After all, if they succeed on their motion, they’re going to end up spending more time with your child. So, consider whether the other parent has a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, unresolved mental health issues, or financial instability that pose a threat to your child. Any one of these issues could give you a lot to work with in arguing your point.
  • Renew focus on the child’s best interests: Sure, your parenting abilities are tied to your child’s best interests, but sometimes the arguments in a custody modification hearing turn towards bashing the other parent rather than focusing on what’s best for the child. You might be able to shift the focus back to your child, particularly if you have a mental health professional who can speak to what’s best for your kid, thereby maximizing your chances of obtaining a just outcome.
  • Contradict the evidence presented: Although it shouldn’t happen, parents lie in court all the time in hopes of securing the outcome they want. Be prepared for this by gathering as much contradictory evidence as you can. Presenting this evidence will destroy the other parent’s credibility and increase your chances of not only beating the motion, but also modifying the custody order so that it aligns more with your child’s best interests.

Don’t let fear take the steering wheel in your child custody case

In far too many instances, parents are caught flat-footed in a modification hearing because they’re too scared and nervous to figure out how to effectively defend the existing custody order. Don’t let that happen to you. Devote the time needed to craft a skilled strategy that speaks to the legal elements in play. By doing so, you’ll hopefully achieve an outcome that’s best for your child.