Do I have a chance of having our custody agreement changed to sole custody?

My sons father and I split up about 5 months ago, we had already had a joint custody agreement put in place, but since him and I split up, he has violated the custody agreement numerous times including not providing healthcare, not picking up our son on his days, not dropping our son to me on time when he does have him, not getting court ordered anger management among many other things such as bringing several women around my son in a short amount of time, keeping him up late past his bed time, randomly showing up at his daycare to pick him up on days that are not his....etc. I have proof of A LOT of these violations. If I take him back to court, what are my chances of having our agreement altered and getting sole custody?

Martinsburg, WV -

Attorney Answers (2)

Thomas J Callahan

Thomas J Callahan

Family Law Attorney - Hanover, MA
Answered

Do you have both shared legal and physical custody, or just shared legal with you having primary physical custody? Remember that legal custody deals with the ability of you two to communicate and cooperate over major decisions - I don't see evidence of that inability in all this (yet). If you now have shared physical custody and want to go to sole custody, he may still have visitation, and some of these issues like timely returns and trying to take him on days not his may still exist. His compliance with a visitation issue could be the subject of a contempt, although you could and should seek modification if the schedule is not strictly defined enough. The past bedtime issue is a legal custody decision - each parent decides, but if you feel strongly about it and the amount past your bedtime is excessive for a child of that age, then seek modification to put into place a set bed time. That will be difficult to enforce.

The failure to comply with healthcare and anger management therapy are subjects for a contempt case, not necessarily grounds for a change of custody unless the uncontrolled anger creates a threat to the child's well-being.

You can try to modify depending on what type of custody you have and what you are seeking, if for nothing else to nip his poor parenting choices in the bud. But if your goal is sole custody without any visitation by him, I don't think you can prevail (yet) unless any of these actions creates a threat of harm to the child. Only his anger issues, if uncontrolled and depending how they show themselves, comes close to that.

My advice, go for the modification you seek, but be prepared to compromise on simply getting new and clearer ground rules for visitation/custody time and perhaps that he keep his dating time to when he does not have the child. You may not have enough at this time to change custody. Hammer him with a contempt on the insurance and anger therapy issues.

To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive... more
Alexis Riley

Alexis Riley

Child Custody Lawyer - Brooklyn, NY
Answered

You can petition the court to have the custody order modify based on the reason you have printed here. You should contact a local child custody attorney to help you through this process.

Good Luck!

All of Ms. Riley's responses to questions posted on AVVO are intended as general information based upon the facts... more

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