How can I change joint custody? 54 Answers as of August 19, 2012

My ex and I currently have joint physical/legal custody of our 3 kids. In January he beat our son leaving a huge bruise on his upper leg and a smaller bruise. I reported and they arrested him for assault. We went to court and they are sending him to SCAN classes and if he does not attend by September he will be charged. In light of that I am filing for sole custody. What are my chances? In addition he is muslim and I am not. The kids are free in my home to choose their own faith when they are old enough while they are NOT allowed to in his home. Can I argue their right to freedom of religion?

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Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
Please discuss this with your lawyer. However, you will need to have the Court change the joint custody order. Freedom of religion can cut both ways.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 8/19/2012
Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
The fact that your former husband beat your son may provide some relief or protection by at least requiring supervised visitation- and that is something you should at least ask the court for. Your chances are probably pretty good for supervised visitation at least. If he refuses to attend the classes then your chances are much improved. AS to religion, the courts will generally stay out of that arena- the fact he is Muslim is not enough to remove joint custody. He is just a free with his religion as you are to make your choices.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 6/22/2012
Kenneth A. Friedman, P.A.
Kenneth A. Friedman, P.A. | Kenneth A. Friedman
There is not much point in bringing up the religious issue, as the Courts are generally reluctant to go there when there is another clear path. Given the physical abuse, your chances of changing the parenting arrangements are good.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/18/2012
John Russo | John Russo
WOW, Do you have a lawyer because this makes no sense to me. I am going to assume that there is a Restraining Order in place since he was arrested. In this jurisdiction Rhode Island I would have moved forthwith seeking ex-parte relief, (means only one side being heard) with a motion along with an affidavit from you telling your story, along with a copy of the R/O or No Contact Order, asking the court to award you temporary sole custody and placement of the minor child, as well as asking that his visitation be suspended, if your facts are correct I could send my dog down to the court and get the relief sought granted. Now under an ex-parte order your husband will have the right to be heard in 20 days to try and prove the allegations are false, but based on what you are telling me he would have a better chance of hitting the lottery without a ticket then having a judge reverse the temporary order. From that point on most likely the court will end up after a few hearings modifying the custody arrangement. If your facts are true, and if I were representing you, then you would end up with sole custody and placement, and at best for and extended period of time your husband would have to attend counseling, as well as anger management classes, before he would even hope to have unsupervised visitation lifted with the minor child. The courts will not get tired up it in what religion these children will follow. The only exception is, that if both parents are fine people in the eyes of the court, and the parties share joint custody then the court will not allow one parent to send the children to their church when the children are with them, but tell the other that they cannot take them to their church when their with that parent, that is more of a fairness issue then one of religion. But the court would rather have the parties work these things out between themselves. The only time a court would even think of interfering with the children going to a church is when the church is shown to be harmful i.e. human sacrifices,and such things of that nature, but then again thats illegal, my point is courts hate to get involved in religion. Go see a good FAMILY LAW attorney, remember any lawyer can handle a family court matter, i.e. custody, divorce etc. but would you go to an eye doctor to have open heart surgery, make sure they practice in the Family Court it will save you problems in the years to come.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 6/18/2012
Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
You will need to go back to court to have the judge modify any custody order.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 6/15/2012
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Have you hired an attorney yet? It sounds from your question that you have started the process already and if so, you need to ask your attorney these questions. Now as for the "chances" there is no way any lawyer can answer that question on the internet. Chances or odds of winning is based on so many dynamic issues that it is virtually impossible to predict the outcome of a case. However, with the facts you present here, I would venture to say you have the upper hand right now. Keep in mind, I base that statement on the facts you presented, I do not know all the facts. As for freedom of religion - children do not have freedom of religion. The election of religious training is a right of a parent.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/15/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    Hitting child = good chance of success. Religion makes no difference.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/15/2012
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC | Galen M. Hair
    Regarding the violence that occurred, that may be enough to alter custody, but in changing custody, the court looks at a host of factors. With regard to freedom of religion as a basis for altering custody, the general rule is that children are subject to their parents' rules on things like this, but it has been quite some time since this has been challenged. If you are very interested in pursuing this, you should contact an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/15/2012
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    With proper counsel, your chances look pretty good to me at obtaining sole custody and limiting child visits to supervised visitation. Please see a family law attorney soon to get the job taken care of properly.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/15/2012
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You have a fairly good case, but you would best retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to represent you in your Divorce case. You could report your husband's conduct and your son's injury to Child Protective Services, but that could propel the case away from the Family Law Court and into Dependency Court, which would freeze all activity regarding your son in the Family Law case. Your husband's violence is not to be condoned, and even though the criminal case is temporarily on hold while he is going to SCAN classes, Child Protective Services can move quickly to protect your son - and likely all your children. The religion issue would not be dealt with in Dependency Court, but should be brought up in the Family Law case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/14/2012
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    The court cannot decide what religion the children will be raised (unless the parties agree to a specific religion), and the fact that he is Muslim will not be taken into consideration; however, if he is physically abusive toward the children, this may certainly be grounds to modify the custody/parenting time orders. Keep in mind - the court may wonder why you are waiting until June to address this issue rather than moving forward in January. I recommend you speak with an attorney to determine your best course of action.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 6/14/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    You should try to get sole custody. There is a process that requires evaluation of at least 8 items, one of which is religion.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/14/2012
    Attorney At Law | Harry D. Roth
    His beating of the child is important. Family Code Section 3044, which you should read, says that a person who beats a child or a spouse should not have joint custody, either legal or physical. His religious beliefs are irrelevant. Every parent has a right to raise their children in the faith of their choice. If you wish to give your children a choice, you may. If he does not so wish, he may. The fact that you married one another and had children together, given those respective beliefs, was bound to create conflict and conflict you have. Freedom of religion has nothing to do with it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Gregory C. Graf
    Gregory C. Graf | Gregory C. Graf
    You must file a motion to modify parenting time and decision making. Your chances are very good on both issues based on the domestic violence.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    I think your chances are good and the religious choice is an issue after all this is still America.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Robert J. Merlin, P.A.
    Robert J. Merlin, P.A. | Robert J. Merlin
    The fact that he beat one of your children will be taken very seriously by the judge. It is not a guaranty that you can limit his contact with the children, but there is a very good chance of it. Please note that the concept of "custody" is no longer recognized in Florida. What would happen is that his access to the children probably would be limited, which is basically what you want to do. By the way, that does not affect his child support obligation. As for the difference in religion, that alone should not, under the U.S. and Florida Constitutions, be enough. However, the way he treats the children, including his intolerance and his insistence that they must follow the religion that he dictates, could be additional grounds to limit his access to and influence over the children.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    Due to his physical abuse, you may be awarded sole custody. It would help if you had more incidents of physical abuse.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    In custody disputes, domestic violence is a significant factor to the Court when awarding a change in custody. You want to obtain all of the criminal records, especially if he is convicted. I would still advise you to obtain counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Stuart Jon Bierman  Attorney at Law
    Stuart Jon Bierman Attorney at Law | Stuart Jon Bierman
    Seems to me you should consult with an attorney and hire one if possible. These are important matters which will have long-term consequences on your childrens' health and well-being so you ought to hire an attorney so you will be able to make the best possible presentation when you go to court.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli | Robert D. Rosanelli
    You ask what are your chances of obtaining custody of your children. Clearly, no one can answer your question about your specific situation, however, the fact that he abused the children will not be ignored by the court. Generally, parents who abuse their children do not obtain an award of child custody, and often are only awarded supervised visitation. Regarding their religion. The children may select any religion that they desire. There is no law that prefers religions.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    Usually religious preferences are worked out between parents. Your previous custody order may address that issue Was a complaint filed with Department of Family Services for their involvement? Assaulting a child should not sit well with the court. But it all depends on the judge. I hope you have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Davis-Yancey Law & Life Coaching, PLLC
    Davis-Yancey Law & Life Coaching, PLLC | Gwendolyn Davis-Yancey
    Modification of custody requires meeting an initial threshold of showing a "change in circumstances". It is my legal opinion that if it can clearly be shown that the father physically abused the minor child, there is a great probability that the change in circumstances threshold will be met. Once the change in circumstances threshold has been met, the court is required to hold an evidentiary hearing (which is a trial) on the issue of modifying custody. There are a lot of factors involved in modifying custody, therefore, it would be necessary to be involved in all areas of the case, in order to provide a legal opinion on the probability that you would be granted a custody modification by the court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    File for change in custody.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    Good. The fact he beat your son can be used against him in court and is a reason for a court to deny custody or visitation. I have not seen the issue of religious freedom argued, but while the kids are with you he cannot force you to teach them the Islamic faith. It seems like they will be with you for a substantial amount of time to raise them as you see fit. I don't know how old they are but if they are old enough to have an inteligent opinion , the court will listen to their opinions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Border Law Firm
    Border Law Firm | Teresa Lynn Border
    You may petition the court for a modification of your Parenting Plan if it has been over a year since the plan was entered or there has been a substantial change of circumstances. It sounds as though one or both of these may be present. Based on the recent assault upon your son, it is extremely likely you can become the primary custodial parent. He will probably still have visitation, but you can asked that it be supervised. Courts are extremely reluctant to not award any visitation. When it comes to freedom of religion, if you are the primary custodial parent, you can ask that you be given decision making authority over your children while they are with you. If they are with you most of the time, you can encourage them to participate in the faith of their choosing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    The Jordan Law Firm
    The Jordan Law Firm | John Paul Jordan
    The Freedom of Religion argument isn't going to be a valid point, the abuse is. If he is having visitation with the kids now you need to get them out of his care. If not you should remind the court of the following statutes: Okla. Stat. tit. 43, ? 109 (I.)(1.) states: In every proceeding in which there is a dispute as to the custody of a minor child, a determination by the court that domestic violence, stalking, or harassment has occurred raises a rebuttable presumption that sole custody, joint legal or physical custody, or any shared parenting plan with the perpetrator of domestic violence, harassing or stalking behavior is detrimental and not in the best interest of the child, and it is in the best interest of the child to reside with the parent who is not a perpetrator of domestic violence, harassing or stalking behavior. -and- Okla. Stat. tit. 43 ? 109.3 states: In every case involving the custody of, guardianship of or visitation with a child, the court shall consider evidence of domestic abuse, stalking and/or harassing behavior properly brought before it. If the occurrence of domestic abuse, stalking or harassing behavior is established by a preponderance of the evidence, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interest of the child to have custody, guardianship, or unsupervised visitation granted to the person against whom domestic abuse, stalking or harassing behavior has been established. (emphasis added) These deal with abusive behavior your husband is conducting.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins | Dave Hawkins
    Lots of issues: 1) You need to file a petition to modify the current parenting plan restricting his visitation because of the criminal assault. It's you statutory obligation to protect the children.There should be a DV order of protection in place to protect you and the kids; 2) In Wa. state , children are never free to live with whom they choose it is a common misconception. Once they are old enough to express wishes, they can do so through a Guardian ad Litem or Parenting evaluator who then advises the court of those wishes. 3) Pursuant to the US Supreme court, a state court may never consider religion as a basis for making a custody determination unless the religion in question caused physical harm tot he kids. You need to hire counsel. DV issues are complex and taint everything in the case. I just finished a three day trial with issues similar to yours and the court slammed the Father. You have a host of rights to protect yourself please take advantage of them.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You can argue the right of freedom of religion but that does not mean that the father cannot take teach them his. If he hit the children, you should have a good chance at getting sole legal custody.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    You need to get into court to protect your kids.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C.
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    File a Petition to Modify the custodial order.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    It isn't possible to tell you what might be the outcome of your request to change the custody arrangements without knowing everything that a judge will know by the time he/she makes a decision. The decision to modify will be based on all the facts and circumstances to decide what is the child's best interest. You should retain, or at least consult, an attorney who can better advise you after more extended discussion.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    You should be filing an emergency restraining order request with the court asking for sole legal and physical custody,no contact between children and father, anger management and parenting classes for father, counseling for your traumatized children, and support and attorney fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Rebecca Rainwater
    Rebecca Rainwater | Rebecca Rainwater
    You would need to file a modification of child custody. You will have to demonstrate to the court that it is not in the best interest of the children to continue the joint physical custody. You may also try to get the court to order a 730 Evaluation. These are expensive but they can provide a great deal of information to the court regarding your children and each parent. You should contact a family law attorney to assist you. If you have not already contacted Child Protective Services about the incident involving your son, you probably should.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    You could file such a petition under these circumstances and even requst the Court allow only supervised visitation between kids and Dad.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Office of Joan M. Canavan | Joan Canavan
    In order to change custody, you must file a Complaint for Modification seeking a change in legal and physical custody on the grounds that the material change in circumstances is that your ex-Husband was arrested for assault of one of your children. If you obtain sole legal custody, then you do not have to consult with your ex-Husband as to what religion your children will practice. You will have sole authority for all decisions concerning your children.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    You should have argued their right to freedom of religion before you signed the agreement. Sole parental responsibility is what you are seeking, not sole custody. You will need an attorney for that and will not be able to do it yourself. Get an experienced and aggressive family attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Offices of Helene Ellenbogen, P.S.H | Helene Ellenbogen
    Washington does not have custody per se. It has decision making authority and residential time. The father will likely have residential time, starting with supervised time and requirements for parenting classes, domestic violence etc. Each parent will be permitted to include the children in his/her religious practices and ordered not to make negative remarks about the beliefs of the other. Freedom of religion is not an issue here. Inclusion in a parent's practices is. The basis for the court's decisions about how much time the children spend with each parent and who gets to make major decisions is the best interest of the child.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    I cannot give you a percentage likelihood as to the change but it sounds like you have a strong case for a modification of the current orders. As for the freedom of religion issue, I don't think that is relevant to this case and children's rights are limited.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    To modify custody, you must file a Motion for modificatoin supporting that motion with affidavits and any relevant evidence that may demonstrate that the child is endangered, physically, emotinally or develomentally in the current custodial situation and that the benefit of the change outweighs and harm caused by the change. if the court believes a sufficient showing has been made, it may set an evidentiary hearing (a trial) on the issue.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Chaudhary Law Office, PLLC
    Chaudhary Law Office, PLLC | Satveer S. Chaudhary
    Thanks for writing and I'm sorry to hear of your situation. You do indeed have a fair chance to change custody under the endangerment standard. Depending on how old the other kids are, their custody may be able to change as well. I presume you've attained a civil order for protection on behalf of your children? If not I strongly recommend you do so. The religion argument under what you have describe is not really a reason to change custody. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Weinpel Law Office, P.C. | Marc Weinpel
    In the first instance, the courts in Idaho will not interfere in a parent's choice of religion for the children. Each parent has the right to direct the child's religious training or for that matter not foster any religious training. It seems the larger question is whether or not you would be able to modify the joint custody order. If your husband was convicted of the assault upon your children I believe that you would have a good chance in your request for sole legal and physical custody.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Poole & Poole, P.A. | Wesley R. Poole
    You must file a Petition for Modification with the Court.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    In order to evaluate your chances, one would need much more information. With respect to the freedom of religion question, in my experience the court system will not interfere with the religious expressions of either parent.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    All changes in custody require a motion to the court to modify custody. Generally, you need to show a change in circumstances to warrange a change in custody. Based on what you tell me, legal and physical custody should be placed with you with probably only supervised parenting for father AFTER he finishes his program.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Steven Harrell, Attorney at Law | Waymon Steven Harrell
    The grounds for a change of custody will be on account of the violent behavior of your ex. The other issues are not as important.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Law Office of Lynda H. LeBlanc
    Law Office of Lynda H. LeBlanc | Lynda Leblanc
    You need to file for sole legal and physical custody of all three children. I would suggest getting an attorney, as custody battles are long and complicated. His arrest and plea will help you, but it may not be enough on its own for a complete change in custody. As for the religion issue, parents make choices on how to raise their kids, that includes what religion to raise them in. If you are granted sole legal custody, then you will be the sole person that has the authority to decide what religion they are raised in if any. He would have to petition the court to have your decision changed in that case. Currently, it depends on how your order is written for legal custody as to who has the final say on the religion issue. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    The Law Offices of Jill Puertas LLC | Jill Puertas
    Freedom of religion argument would be tough, and the courts generally keep church and state considerations separate. You have a good chance to receive sole custody if there is proven abuse.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    "Custody" is a nearly meaningless term in Washington. Your rights and the father's rights to the children are set forth in a parenting plan. You can seek to change that plan so the Father doesn't have unsupervised contact with the children, or not even that until some hurdles are jumped over. The religious question is much more nebulous. You're children's religious rights really aren't the issue; their best interest is and the father's and your religious rights. If you can argue that being prevented from excercising the religion of their choice with their father is not in their best interest, that would be an additional argument but much less important than the phyiscial danger they are currently in.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Burnett Evans Banks
    Burnett Evans Banks | Paul Evans
    Under your stated circumstances, your chances of gaining sole custody are very good, as long as you have to offer a safe, loving, supportive home. You also might seek to have your ex's parenting time supervised. Regarding religion, the courts are extremely reluctant to tread anywhere near basing a custody decision on anything having to do with choice of religion, unless, of course, it involves an issue of danger, abuse or neglect of the minor children.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Palomino Law Firm, P.C.
    Palomino Law Firm, P.C. | Debra Palomino
    Make sure your decree does not require mediation prior to filing to modify custody and parenting time rights. Several months have gone by, which gives concern about what parenting time the Father has enjoyed since the assault. As for the religious issue, you need to address that issue in your modification.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    Religion is not the argument to make, the physical abuse is the key. Before a court will even consider a motion to change custody that has been set forth in a judgment or order, the person seeking to modify custody must first meet the threshhold requirement that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances and/or proper cause to review the existing custody order. I would say that physical abuse meets that threshhold. But even after that, the moving party must prove to the court, by either a preponderance of the evidence, or clear and convincing evidence (depending upon whether or not a custodial environment exists that is being altered by the proposed change) that is in the best interest of the children to change custody. The best interest factors are set forth in statute.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    It would appear you have a good chance of changing custody of the children in light of the facts you related. I would have to discuss the full circumstances. Change of custody is not an easy procedure.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2012
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    You need to commence a modification action. Ultimately, the Court will enter an order it deems in the best interests of your children. As to religion, it is typically constitutionally protected for both sides.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2012
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