After a bitter, three year divorce process, my ex and I agreed (with the help of minor's counsel for our daughter who is 13) to a final, Montenegro custody order a year ago that gave me primary custody. He is now threatening to go to court and request 50/50 custody because last month I took him back to court to modify child support (I previously wasn't receiving anything, and he got a huge raise, so I requested guideline support - he was not happy). Is this something that he would actually be granted? My daughter has such a stable environment, is doing great in school, and enjoys seeing her dad just every other weekend. There has been ABSOLUTELY NO change in circumstances WHATSOEVER. She is a straight A student, never getting in trouble... Any insight would be great! Thanks!!I am also realistic, and do know that when my ex questions my daughter about what "she wants", she says, "I don't care" and "I love you both"... which I hate that he does. She gets very uncomfortable and just says what he wants so that he is nice the rest of the weekend she is there. My daughter had minor's counsel twice and had four separate meetings with them, and so obviously she told them how she truly felt about both of us, and that's why they made the recommendation they did. Can he use what she is saying to keep him happy against me now? Does it matter since we have this final order?
No one can predict what a given judge will do-- but a few things are usually true:
1. This is transparent-- and common. Pretty much every time a dad gets asked for more support he asks for more time. This does not mean it is given.
2. A teen will have some say-- usually in chambers so the two parents cant hear what is said.
So, my best advice is don't panic and be very calm and matter of fact in court.
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Ms. Straus, as she always does, has provided excellent advice. As she said, there is no way to predict how a given judge will rule but most judges do not like to disrupt family arrangements unless there is overwhelming evidence such a disruption is in the best interests of the child.
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I agree with Ms. Straus. If your ex is asking for more time just to reduce his support payments, the judge will almost certainly have seen that before, and will see through his ploy. Most family court judges also look to keep stability within the child's life, and if your daughter is thriving, a good judge may be reluctant to change her environment.
At thirteen, her opinion will carry some weight but that puts her in a potentially emotionally difficult position. Hopefully she can communicate the importance of the stability of the current arrangement, and not feel like she is disrespecting her father by saying every other weekend is fine.
Any answer given by me on this website is not reliable legal advice because it is based on the limited information posted by the asker. The answer specifically does not establish any attorney/client relationship and is meant solely to give general advice with the hope that the asker has a better understanding of how to proceed with their legal issue.
Although your final custody orders are pursuant to marriage of Montenegro it is not set in stone. Custody orders are always subject to modification, however, where there is final order like the one in your case, your husband has to show that there is a change in circumstances. If he tries to argue that your daughter wants to be with her father more and that is a change of circumstance, I would ask that the prior minor counsel be reappointed since the minor's counsel is very familiar with the case and your daughter, I would also ask that your ex be responsible for 100% of the fees since it is his motion and it sounds like he is the higher wage earner.
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