It can be shocking to be served with a motion to modify custody filed by your children’s other parent. After all, the motion might request significant restrictions on your parenting time with your kids, or it might even seek to cease contact altogether. This can leave you with an uncertain future with regard to your relationship with your children, which in turn can generate a lot of fear and stress.
But even if the allegations against you seem significant, you shouldn’t lose hope. You’ll have your opportunity to challenge them in court and argue why the motion to modify custody should be denied. Figuring out how to frame your arguments can be tricky, though, especially if you’ve never been through the custody modification process before.
How to defend yourself in a child custody modification proceeding
The first step in building your arguments here is to realize that the matters at hand aren’t about you. They’re about your child. Therefore, you’ll want to do each of the following to ensure you’re making aggressive arguments against the motion that’s been filed:
- Focus on your children’s best interests: Your children’s best interest is going to be the ultimate deciding factor in your custody case. Although the other parent will argue that restricting your time with your children is in their best interests, you’ll want to formulate arguments as to why such a restriction is actually not in the children’s best interests. To do so, highlight the bond you have with your children and how you support their physical, emotional, psychological, and educational well-being.
- Attack the allegations: The allegations made against you in the motion to modify might be false, but you’ll want to be prepared to defend against them in court. Analyze the evidence that the other parent intends to present against you and identify witnesses and other forms of evidence that you can use to support your position.
- Make counterfactual allegations: Although your child’s other parent might make strong allegations against you, and you should defend yourself against those accusations, you shouldn’t shy away from playing a little offense when you can. Depending on the circumstances, you could file your own motion to modify custody, which the court would likely set to be heard aside the already filed motion. Just make sure that you have evidence to support your position here.
- Request a child custody evaluation: A lot of custody cases turn into spats with each parent making opposite statements. This is hard for the judge to parse through, which could leave the decision hanging in the balance. If you want to add a little more certainty to your case, then you might want to request a child custody evaluation where a neutral third party talks to the parents, the children, school personnel, and other collateral sources to figure out what sort of custody arrangement is best for the children. Just keep in mind that this evaluation will also include a review of your children’s educational and medical records, and it might even involve mental health testing.
Don’t let the other parent take charge of your custody case
With so much on the line in your custody case, you can’t sit back and wait for your children’s other parent to run the show. Instead, you should find strong legal strategies aimed at blocking evidence from being used against you, minimizing the impact of evidence that’s submitted to the court, and presenting counter-evidence.
Although navigating your child custody dispute can be incredibly stressful, you can make the process easier through thorough preparation. To learn more about what that looks like in your case, be sure to ask an appropriate source to have your questions answered.