Keep Your Kids Happy
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa fathers’ rights attorney. And today, I want to talk to you guys who are custodial about how to protect your custodial rights and avoid getting into a situation where your ex could potentially launch a successful motion to modify. So some of the common situations that might result in a change of custody. Well, A, number one is, let’s say you’re in a joint custody arrangement and you are not co-parenting.
And you get into a situation where she could legitimately raise that argument, that could be grounds to terminate joint custody and award custody to one or the other party. The thing to keep in mind is, if you’re the one that’s not co-parenting, you run the risk that the court will award her custody if she can show to the court, she’s made a good-faith effort, that she’s tried to include you and you haven’t tried to include her.
Violating a visitation order is another example of where you could potentially lose custody. And there is authority for this. And I mean, number one, that could be considered a material change in circumstance under the Gibbons standard. And I mean, at least if it’s a sustained problem, and the court also has authority by statute under Title 43, pursuant to a motion to enforce visitation. Now, typically a change of custody, you would need to be effected through a Gibbons motion, that is a motion to modify.
But you should know that there is a statutory authority under the statute for the motion to enforce visitation for a court to change custody in an extreme case of visitation denial. And I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve seen it happen to people. It’s not a pretty situation.
Other situations can cost you custody. Well, if you bring somebody who is an unsavory influence into your household, for example, a person who has a criminal history, especially if it involves domestic violence or child abuse, anything sexual that would require them to be a registered sex offender, if the person has an active substance abuse problem, those are circumstances that could lead to a motion to modify that could be successfully prosecuted.
Although, I will caution you, if you bring third parties into the household, even if the person’s squeaky clean if they don’t get along with the kids and you’re talking about older children in particular, that by itself can be considered a change in circumstance that could justify a modification to custody, particularly if this is someone that you are not married to.
I’ve seen Gibbons motions filed on that exact ground. And although they can go either way, it is a situation to be aware of and something to think twice about before you bring a third party into your household. Other situations, obviously, if you have allegations of any kind of abuse on your part.
If you’re alleged to have hit your child, in an excessive manner, if you’re alleged anything sexual. Domestic violence, even if it does not in any way involve that child. Let’s say you get into something with your girlfriend.
Even if the child wasn’t present, there’s a statutory authority that the court can and should consider domestic violence when addressing the issue of custody. That is potentially a material change in circumstance.
Now, you should understand that typically when you’re dealing with a Gibbons motion situation, what you’re really talking about, or at least the way the court should interpret the law, is that there’s a material change in circumstance, that is a sustained change.
So if you have a single bad time, bad incident, unless you’re talking about something really bad, it shouldn’t result in a change in custody, but that’s not to say that it can’t. And it’s also not to say that you couldn’t get drug into court anyway, and wind up having to spend a bunch of money to defend your custodial rights. So a long and short of it is, as far as domestic violence goes, try to avoid that, try to avoid that kind of allegations because they can really screw you up as a custodial parent.
And if you are facing a protective order, take it seriously. Even if it’s some random girlfriend that you never want to see again on this earth, keep in mind that if your ex gets wind of that and wants to, she can prosecute a motion to modify off the basis of fighting domestic violence. And if the facts are bad enough, it could really blowback in your face.
So long and short of it is to take those things seriously. They are a big deal and they can affect your rights in ways you can’t predict. So, if you get served with a protective order, even if it’s by someone you don’t give two squirts about, that you should still fight it because it can affect your rights to your kids.
Another situation that is a material change in circumstance is when your kids get older, once they attain the age of 12, children are deemed by the law to be capable of forming an intelligent opinion as to where they should live and whose custody they should be in.
And although it is not binding on the court, a motion to modify can be predicated on a child’s preference. And that preference becomes stronger and more persuasive as the child ages. So be aware of that. It’s not decisive, but it certainly can be a reason you might be facing a motion to modify.
And I’m not suggesting that you try to pucker up to your kid or that you give in their way all the time, just to keep them happy. That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. But what I am saying is if you have a situation where your relationship with your child has seriously broken down, then it might be time to get into therapy before your baby mama has an opportunity to drop that motion to modify on you. And guys, if you’re a Child Support Modifications Attorney visit dads.law.