Modifying Custody If Kids Participate In Dangerous Activities

divorce lawyer Caroline ThompsonQuestion:

My ex-wife took my 6-year-old camping where a family friend taught my child how to shoot a gun. My child told me about it even though he said his mother told him to keep it a secret.

Do I have grounds to modify custody if my ex-wife is allowing my child to participate in dangerous activities at such a young age and then telling him to lie to me about it?


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania child custody laws where I am licensed to practice.

Technically, you can pursue a modification at any time after the last order. Based on the information you provided, it does appear that there are issues with regard to custody and serious safety concerns.

A Petition to Modify Custody may be filed when a custody order in place and you are simply asking the court to modify the terms of the previous custody order. Generally, a custody determination and/or subsequent modification must be made based on the best interests of the child.

Depending on your jurisdiction, it can sometimes take several months for a custody modification hearing to be scheduled. However, if the court considers an issue serious enough they can act on an emergency basis and conduct a hearing much sooner, sometimes in the same week as a petition is filed.

Typically, the child must be in some immediate danger that will cause serious and irreparable harm and a determination of what is “serious” enough is completely within the court’s discretion.

There are many factors that the court takes into consideration when determining a modification of custody. Judges usually want the child to have ongoing and consistent contact with each parent.

However, if the court deems contact with a parent to be irreparably harmful to a child, the court, in rare and limited circumstances, will award one parent sole custody and suspend and/or terminate another parent’s custodial rights.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Caroline J. Thompson, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “Modifying Custody If Kids Participate In Dangerous Activities

    Father of 3
    I do not believe the advise Caroline gave was very complete. It will be very difficult to show the court that learning to shoot a gun causes “an immediate danger”. If anything, it could be just the opposite if your ex-wife follows proper safety techniques. Children are curious and may get into things (like a gun) when parents are not around to guide them. My father taught me to shoot a gun when I was about 6 years old. It did not make me a criminal or bad, and I am very confident that I will know how to use a gun for safety if required.

    On the other-hand, telling the child to keep it a secret from the other parent does not support proper collaboration between the parents. Just because one parent does not like what the other is doing, does not make it wrong. I suggest that you take some time and talk this issue out with your ex-wife. There will likely be much bigger problems to discuss and agree upon down the road.

    Look for a peaceful resolution first, before swinging the Ax. Good Luck.

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