My son, who turns 18 in January, currently lives with his mother, but I worry about the environment he is in. They’re constantly getting into heated arguments and she recently had to call the police on him.
I think he would be much better off living with me. What can I do to get a change in custody?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state, I can give some general guidance on this issue.
Just based on what you described in your message, I believe you have a few options.
First however, I need to stress that custody laws vary greatly from state to state. I encourage you to meet with a Cordell and Cordell attorney licensed to practice law in your state. The rest of my answer is based on my experience as an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia.
It is very relevant that your son will turn 18 in January. Generally, when someone turns 18, they are considered separate from their parents.
This means that the court orders dictating custody and visitation with the child may not apply any more. I say maybe because in some jurisdictions and according to some court orders, a custody order is still binding on an 18-year-old if that child is still in high-school.
Please make sure you read your court orders carefully and consult local law. If your son is considered separate or emancipated at 18, then at that age he is free to leave his mother’s home and live with whoever he wants.
Your other option is to file a petition for modification of custody with the court. This is a new court action where you ask the judge to reevaluate the current custody order and modify it so that your husband has primary custody.
In Georgia, the moving party, the side that wants to change custody, must convince the judge that there has been a material change in circumstances. The mother calling the police on the son is likely to be enough to constitute such a change.
A more thorough look at the facts of the police call would help us know for sure. Since the son is 17, he may have the ability to choose which parent he wants to live with. In Georgia, a child 14 years or older has the ability, with some caveats, to elect which parent he wants to live with.
Please be sure to check your local rules and state laws, or contact a local Cordell & Cordell associate, to better learn how a child’s election will work in your specific situation.