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Father had 40% joint custody for years, suddenly lost much of it. What can he do?

Your Question:
I have two minor children (15 & 17) who I've had 40% physical custody and joint legal custody for 13 years. Now that the children are teenageres my ex-wife took me to court to have the visitation modified to accomodate the kids freedom, stating they don't want to have to come over as often because of their busy scedules.

I represented myself (big mistake) and I was alloted 1 dinner visit per week with my children. Shortly after this change, the ex served me again for a modification in child support because now my custody has changed drastically.

My ex has been in and out of numerous relationships and recently married for 8 months and now in an ugly divorce. The kids have no boundaries and lack structure at their mothers.

With my kids being teenagers, is there anything I can do to regain my custody and prove the many false allegations and expenses the ex claims?

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My Answer:

I took liberty to bold the very important statement you made, that people really need to take away from this post. The only people who typically do an adequate job representing themselves are those who have years of experience dealing with child custody issues.

I asked you for further information regarding the allegations. You gave some examples that - to me - don't seem make it / break it.

If your judge used any of the allegations as fuel for the ruling, then it'd be worth it perhaps to take steps to disprove the allegations. But you emphasized that the mother's position was about accommodating the teens' schedules, not about you being an awful father. If the court ruled mostly on the "busy schedule" argument, then you're pretty done on that; unless the kids ever voice a desire to see you more again.

It's to your benefit (regarding child support) to have the mother employed, so I don't know why you'd want to try to disprove that claim. In your other email (not posted), you speculate that she quit her job but lied about it.

At this point, your best case for modifying the parenting plan again is to show the damage being done to the kids via the mother's home. I don't know if you can do this or not.

It's important to understand what really matters in court, and what evidence/testimony you should be building to try for another modification.

That said, your oldest is 17. I really don't see much happening before the kid turns 18. Unless you have extremely compelling evidence, judges don't like to throw kids back and forth with abrupt and frequent adjustments to the parenting schedule.

Good luck, and sorry things went poorly for you recently in court. Though not much consolation, the "glass half full" perspective is that you got to spend 40% of the time raising your kids during most of their childhood. That's more than many divorced dads get.


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