If you’re a divorced parent whose visitation with your child is limited to the occasional weekend and summer break, you may be delighted to hear that your child doesn’t want to go back to their other parent’s home at the end of summer break. It would be wonderful to have your child with you throughout the year, right?
Before you get too excited, you need to take a deep breath and plan your next step carefully. These kinds of situations are common, particularly when kids start to develop a sense of personal independence — right around the middle school years or when high school starts. However, you can’t just unilaterally decide that your child can continue to stay with you once the summer vacation is over.
When there’s a custody order in place, it’s actually a crime not to return your child to their other parent according to the plan — no matter what your child feels about the situation. You could find yourself hauled into court, have your parenting time further restricted, be cited for contempt or even serve time in jail.
You can, however, work out a new custody and visitation plan with your ex-spouse, if they’re agreeable. If they’re not, your only other option is to petition the court for a modification of the existing custody order. At that point, the court will have to consider whether a modification is in the best interests of your child. That means answering questions like, “Why do you want to move?” and “Why isn’t the current custody and visitation plan working?”
Judges are often hesitant to upset the status quo when it’s working, but they can be persuaded to make changes when there’s a good reason. Talk to an attorney about how to build your best case for a custody modification today.