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What if Your Older Child is Telling You They Want Custody or Parenting Time Arrangement Changed?

What you should be doing if you have an older child who is telling you that he or she wants the custody or parenting time arrangements to be changed.

I had this issue just come up in one of my cases and let me give you a little background.  I have a client and he had custody of his three boys as they were growing up but as the boys were growing up one of them started to give him a hassle a few years ago saying that he wanted to live with mom who lives in Arizona and father by the way lives in a different state.

So father and mother went through a couple of rounds of litigation where they were battling over whether the boy would get to come and live with mother or not and ultimately in those rounds of litigation they settled the case. But more recently the boy came to spend time with mother during summer break and at the end of summer break he essentially refused to go home. The boy is 16 years old according to the mother the boy refused to get in the plane to get in the car to go to the airport and he just wouldn't go.

 So mother in father's view didn't do home and school started and the other stayed and the boy was missing days.  Father was being contacted by the school  and father was trying to talk to mother saying hey let's figure out how to work this out.   Meanwhile mother just kept the boy here with her in Arizona. She didn't file anything or really she didn't do anything.  She enrolled him in a new school in Arizona and she un-enrolled him from the other school.  That led father to file certain paperwork in the state of Arizona. 

 As it turns out father didn't file exactly the right paperwork so the court had a hearing in very short order.  The court said dad I can't order the relief that you're asking for because you didn't ask for the right thing but what the judge did do is admonish and chastised the mother and he said you can't do things this way.   You don't take the law into your own hands and if you have a situation where an older child is telling you that he or she wants to do something then you need to take the right steps and follow the law.   You need to follow the court order until that order is changed and if the order needs to be changed right away then it's your obligation to file a motion.  You need to file it in front of the judge or in front of the court who's handling that case.   You must ask that judge to modify the order accordingly so a hearing can be held and a judge can make a determination whether the change is in the best interest of the child.