What Are Grounds For Modifying Child Custody?

parenting timeQuestion:

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.

Marietta divorce attorney Adam Sutton
Marietta divorce attorney Adam Sutton

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.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Georgia divorce lawyer Adam Sutton, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “What Are Grounds For Modifying Child Custody?

    I’m 17 years old and I want to live with my father. I’ve been thinking about this for over a year and I’m sure this is what I want. I currently live with my mother and I only see my father during the summer. I don’t get along well with my mother and we often get in heated arguments and there have been times when she has laid her hands on me. I wouldn’t consider it as abuse though, just over the top. The second issue is that my parents live a few states apart, thus the reason why I only see my father in the summer and every other holiday. I want to know what it would take to live with my father. I wont tell my parents about it yet because I want to know exactly what I’d be getting myself into before I announce my decision. So please a little help?

    Help for my son’s father.
    My son’s father (50)married someone half his age..she(25) at the time had a two year old. She became pregnant even though he stated he didnt want any more kids…father of two adults an a 9 yr old. Their baby is now 1. She moved back to Detroit, he lives here in California. Married for 1 year…but she moved out 4 months prior. Should she get spousal support? She works and has the help of mother and grandparents. They just had a hearing in Detroit and she didnt let him see his daughter. What can he do? Help!

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