When a Wisconsin family court judge issued a final decree for your divorce, you may have felt mixed emotions. Even if you were the spouse who filed the initial petition, coming to terms with major changes in life is not always easy. Especially if you’re a parent, you may have encountered challenges when negotiating child custody terms of agreement. When the judge issued the final order, it established certain issues, such as where your children were to live and whether you’d share custody or one parent would have visitation.
A child custody order helps prevent confusion, as well as disputes. Everything’s written out, and both parents must adhere to its terms, no matter what. However, issues may arise that make your current terms of agreement no longer feasible. If this happens, you’re still obligated to obey the existing court order, but you may request modification by filing a petition in court; the judge will want you to show “just cause,” meaning, a legitimate reason as to why he or she should change the original orders.
Examples of “just cause” for child custody modification requests
The court always has the children’s best interests in mind when ruling on child custody issues in a divorce. If the court is asked to change an initial custody order, there has to be a convincing reason to do so. The following list includes examples of “just cause” for custody modifications:
- Evidence that children are at risk in the presence of the other parent
- Relocation, either voluntary or due to employment, military, etc.
- Change in children’s financial needs
- New work schedule that prevents timely custody exchanges according to the initial agreement
- Other parent has become incarcerated, incapacitated or has died
- Co-parent has continually disregarded the existing court order
The court understands that certain issues might make it difficult or impossible for a particular parent to continue to meet the terms of agreement in an existing child custody order. A family court judge may modify a court order at his or her own discretion. However, a judge can also deny a request for modification, in which case, the terms of agreement in the existing order would still be in effect.
Court orders are legally enforceable
If the issue you’re having is that your ex has refused to adhere to the court’s child custody order, you are not powerless to resolve the issue. There are specific legal steps you can take to bring the matter to the court’s attention. The average family court judge does not look favorably on a parent of divorce who is disregarding child custody orders. The court has several options available to resolve such issues.
Provided the issues you’re facing do not have to do with a non-compliant co-parent, you still have a right to request child custody modification when your terms of agreement are no longer feasible and you believe it is within your children’s best interests to request a change.