Modifying Custody Orders After A Divorce Is Finalized

Wisconsin divorce lawyer Anne SciporQuestion:

My ex and I had a non-contested divorce and she was awarded custody three years ago. I now have more time than her to spend with our son due to work schedules. Is it possible to obtain joint custody after a divorce is final?




I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state and can only provide you with general tips on your situation.

In most states, there is a process by which you can file a motion to modify the existing custody and placement order following a divorce. Different states have different criteria you would have to meet in order to be able to proceed with a motion of this nature.

In Wisconsin, where I practice law, a person is typically restricted from requesting any sort of modification to custody or placement within the first two years after a final order is entered on custody and placement. After two years, a person can request a modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances such that a modification to custody or placement would be in the best interest of the child.

Also, in Wisconsin, as in most states, we have two different concepts, the concept of custody and the concept of placement. Custody refers to decision-making ability for the child regarding  major life decisions – things like what school he attends, what religion he’s brought up in, whether he’s allowed to join the military before age 18.

Placement refers to how much time a parent has with the child. In your question, you state that your ex-wife has custody, but I’m not sure if what you really mean is that she has primary placement, or if under the terms of your divorce, she has both sole legal custody and primary placement.

Regardless, if your son is now placed primarily with you because of your ex-wife’s work schedule, you should be able to file a motion to modify the existing custody and placement order to grant you joint legal custody and primary or shared placement of your son.

You can also always reach agreements with your ex-wife to modify existing orders, so if she’s at all agreeable to modifying the order so it actually reflects the amount of placement time you’re having, that’s definitely an option.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Wisconsin divorce lawyer Anne Scipior, contact Cordell & Cordell.


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2 comments on “Modifying Custody Orders After A Divorce Is Finalized

    What now ?
    13 year old on for the 6 year he has had visitation with me ite vistation has been rocky. The order reads, every other weekend from Friday at 6pm until Sunday at 6pm. At a contempt of vistation hearing a judge granted an extra day because the mother was keeping him from his father extending the visitation on a perminant basis til monday at 6pm. Since then divorce post 5 years, my son is now as I mentioned 13, quit public school, to be online school ( without my knowledge ) and his mother signed for it to avoid a truncy charge. MY SON has missed 20+ plus days of school each year for the past 4 years.

    Back in September we were back in court for the 7th time since divorce, during that hearing she claimed he quit school because of the stress from visitation with me. Judge ruled that my visitation be suspended.. and that I be allowed everyday communication, via phone text or email.. I would like to ask you ladies and gentlemen how many of the above happend in the past 60 days? 7 phone conversations to finally hear my son tell me he wants nothing to do with me. Meanwhile our family is completely floored. You see, I am a strict parent. I have rules and these rules are simple:

    If you sleep in it you make it.
    If you make the mess, then you clean it.
    You are limited to only playing video games on the weekend, or when school is out.
    You must maintain an A & B report card, Videos games is a priveledge.
    If an adult asks you for help then you respectfully help
    Respect people and their property just as they respect yours
    Participate in family outings
    Treat people like you want to be treated.
    At the age of 18, or after college, or medically necessary
    ( being the acception for living at home after 18) you must find your own residency.
    You must pray before you eat but you should also pray before you go to bed.

    Tell me where I went wrong????? Punishments in the past 3 years to my son, – Chores, Chores and no computer and video games.. Chores consisted of chopping wood, picking up pine cones, raking leaves, dishes, folding laundry, Washing the family car, Walking the dog, Stacking wood, normal go sit on your bed no electronics, no reading, nothing sit and think for a few hours.. ( like 2-3hrs at most ) … Where Did I go wrong. How do I fix this?

    Modifying Child Custody
    One can file the motions without an attorney. Of course the court, Judge and clerks will advise you of obtaining the service of an attorney. One note that no will tell you; after you file the Motion to Modify Child Custody, a Motion to Set has to be filed. In TX this is a 45 day window. Which is BS, just gives the custodial parent more time to adjust their battle plan. You can also file for “Expanded Possession”. This ALL attorneys will not tell you at the onset of a divorce and custody “battle”. Be aware, all lawyers will not jeopardize their integrity by REALLY fighting for you. They always work hand in hand with the Judges and the attorney representing the petitioner. Good luck, don’t give up!

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