If you are the noncustodial parent of a minor child, you may wonder what strategies to employ to regain custody. At the outset, you must understand that in order to regain child custody, you must demonstrate to the court that a material change of circumstances occurred warranting an alteration of the existing custodial arrangement. This type of change must be so significant that not returning the child to your custody would threaten her best interests. An example of such a change might be a situation in which the current custodial parent developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Pursuing a case to regain child custody requires that you pull together evidence sufficient to persuade the court of your claim that the child's welfare is at risk, according to "Child Custody A to Z" by Guy J. White. The heart of such evidence is documentation, records designed to demonstrate that the current legal custodian of the child is conducting himself in a manner inconsistent with the well being, welfare, safety and health of the minor.
A tip for regaining child custody is to be as proactive as possible. One step to take in this regard is to obtain a home study before a court even requests that you do so. A home study is an evaluation conducted by a professional--typically a social worker--of not only your residence, but your work, health and social situations. By presenting the court with a completed, independent home study at the start of the proceedings, you convey a message to the court that you not only are serious about the proceedings but also about providing a wholesome living environment for the child. Making such a presentation to the court particularly is important when trying to regain custody. If you already lost custody at one time, you must convince the court that your own circumstances have changed in a positive manner.
In addition to documentation and a home study, you also want to round up witnesses to testify on your behalf at a custody hearing, according to "Child Custody A to Z." Witnesses can include any counselor or other therapeutic professional who provided services to assist you after you lost custody initially. Such a professional can explain how you now are in a better position to resume custody of a child.
In considering your overall strategy to regain child custody, another tip to consider is retaining an attorney. Regaining child custody represents a challenging, complicated legal matter. Your rights and interests likely are best protected through legal representation. The American Bar Association maintains a set of resources for individuals like you in need of legal representation in custody matters. The resources include contact information for local and state bar associations, organizations that maintain directories of attorneys who represent clients in different areas of the law.
- "Child Custody A to Z "; Guy J. White; 2005
- Nolo: Child Custody FAQ
- Cornell University Law School: Child Custody Overview