When you’re divorced, custody issues are never really 100 percent settled until the youngest child becomes an adult. Until then, physical custody and visitation rights are always subject to revision, but only if there’s a good reason.
What sort of things could put the custody of your children in question even years after the issue was initially settled? Generally speaking, there are some more common reasons courts will revisit custody orders and make some changes.
Allegations of neglect or abuse
Neglect or abuse are always two of the top reasons that a child may be removed from a home. Sometimes, the question of neglect or abuse is brought up by a teacher, school counselor, doctor or another mandatory reporter. Other times, an ex-spouse may make allegations of neglect or abuse simply to cause problems or because he or she wants a change in custody. It’s important to understand that the government is obligated to investigate allegations of neglect or abuse, even if you know they aren’t true.
Drug use in the home
Any evidence of drug use in your home could put the custody of your children in danger. Even marijuana use, which is legal for medical reasons in Hawaii, can be a problem, particularly if there’s any sign that your kids were present while you were using the drugs or that drug use interfered with your ability to parent.
A criminal conviction
The courts want to see children raised in stable, nurturing environments. If you’re involved in any type of criminal activity, there’s a strong likelihood that you won’t be able to provide a stable home for your child, particularly if you’re arrested. You’ll also generally be setting a bad example for your children, which can cause you to lose custody.
Disregarded court orders
Too many parents think of the orders they get from family court as somewhat optional to follow, and that can backfire in a big way if the court gets frustrated. If you constantly flout the court’s orders, violate the parenting agreement, refuse to turn the child over to the other parent for visitation or generally refuse to facilitate the relationship between your child and the other parent, you could eventually lose primary custody.
When the custody of your children is at stake, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights and defend your interests.