Can I do anything to change custody after the divorce is final?

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Can I do anything to change custody after the divorce is final?

My divorce was final in July of this year and I didn’t have a lawyer. I would like to have full custody of my son instead of split custody.

Asked on October 12, 2010 under Family Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Under OH Law, a Domestic Relations Court retains jurisdiction to allocate parental rights and responsibilities until the minor children reach the age of 18 years.  This means that the Court can revisit the issue of custody at any time until the child reaches the age of majority. 

When there has already been a Divorce Decree issued by the Domestic Relations Court which initially allocated the parental rights and responsibilities, any modification of the parental rights and responsibilities (i.e. custody), must be brought by a motion requesting a change.
In it, the parent that wants to change or modify custody must cite the reasons that he or she believes the earlier decision should be reconsidered.  However, the legal standard is to favor keeping the status quo.  Courts do not want to see a tug-of-war between the parents as they file motion after motion.  Yet, when appropriate, a Court will modify its earlier custody determination.  In this regard the party filing the motion must demonstrate, among other things, that there has been a change in circumstances since the prior decree or there were facts unknown to the court at the time of the initial decree.  Additionally it would have to be shown to the court that it would be in the "best interest of the child" to modify the decree.

Frankly, modifying a child custody order is difficult.  Not knowing the specifics of your case it's hard to say more other than you really need to consult directly with a family law/divorce attorney as to all of this.


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