If a 16 year old has a bad relationship with his father and cannot achive decent grades due to that fact, how could the child change the court order as to where they want to live?

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If a 16 year old has a bad relationship with his father and cannot achive decent grades due to that fact, how could the child change the court order as to where they want to live?

Asked on January 27, 2013 under Family Law, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A custody arrangement, once legally entered into can only be changed by the court that issued it, not the child. What needs to be done in this case is for the non-custodail parent to file a petition for a modification of the existing order; in it they will have to cite the reasons for wanting the change. The court will then look at various factors in deciding as to whether or not the custody arrangement should be reversed. However, you should be aware that the legal standard is to favor keeping the status quo; courts do not want to see a tug-of-war between the respective parents. Yet, when appropriate, a court will modify its earlier custody determination. Accordingly, the party filing the motion must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the prior decree or there were facts unknown to the court at the time of that decree. Further, it would have to be shown to the court that it would be in the "best interesst of the child" to modify the order. That having been said, while a child cannot choose as to which parent they want to live with, the older the child the greater the weight given to their preferance. So a 16 will have some influence as to what the court decides. Frankly, modifying a child custody order is difficult. Not knowing the specifics of the case, you are best advised to consult directly with a family law/divorce attorney in your area.


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