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Custodial change

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MO

When my Ex and I divorced in 2009 the parenting plan gave her every other weekend and alternating holidays with her paying no child support. After following that parenting plan for about 2 years she moved about 10 hrs away. When she had been there for over a year I decided it was time to have the parenting plan legally changed to match the actual new parenting schedule. I also asked that she start paying child support. The judge granted a new parenting plan that we both agreed on and ordered her to pay support which she has never agreed on and has filed over 8 motions (all dismissed) to have the support stopped. She moved back in town about 8 months ago and wanted to resume the parenting time from the original divorce decree which I agreed to but she also wanted to go back to not having to pay support like it was before she moved. I did not agree to this as expenses have increased with the kids. I offered that we could figure up a Form 14 based on her being back and seeing the kids more and we could file both a parenting plan and a Form 14 with the courts to make it binding without getting attorneys involved. She doesn't want to pay any support so in March she filed a Motion to Modify and is requesting that she become the custodial parent and the support be adjusted accordingly. The motion makes mention of a parenting plan but one has not been submitted to know what is being asked for. Since she wants to become the custodial parent I would assume she wants a minimum of 50% with the kids. Other than stating she has moved back and her income is less the only reason she states is our son has been having anger issues at school. His school issues have pretty much stopped due to anxiety medication. My questions are:

How likely is she to get the court to assign her as the custodial parent?

How likely is she to get 50% time with the kids when she has never wanted more than the every other weekend schedule for the past almost 6 years? She saw them less when she moved away from her kids for over three of those years.

Will I have to persuade the courts that giving her more time would not be in the children’s best interest?

Will it make a difference she is over $6,000 in arrears on child support?

Thanks in advance for your opinion.


Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I'm sorry, but there's no real way we could do anything better than guess on the likelihood of any particular outcome in your case. I would suggest that you consult with a local attorney.


Obvious Observer
Whatever you do in responding, don't focus on arrears. Focus instead on best interests of your children.

Lacking a crystal ball...

Has there been a substantial change of circumstances for the children since the last order? (Not mom of dad's - but the child's.)

Is Mom using the old visitation (pre-move) plan or the new plan? What are the ages of the children?

Oh, if the Form 14 calculation would lower her support obligation, definitely request the court accept a modification based on that. Reason being... judges get plenty of noncustodial parents asking for increased custody in a bid to lower CS obligation - believe me, if this is your ex's motivation, she will show it.

Well, if the previous 8 motions she filed weren't enough to show it...

You do realize that she harbors some fantasy where her arrears will be waived by the judge as well?


Junior Member
I understand that no one here can tell me what the outcome will be. I didn’t know if there was a precedence set with the courts in cases that a parent decides they want to become the custodial or even 50% time with the kids after many of years of not wanting that. When the appearance is that the parent is only after that because they don’t want to pay support. Other than the ex moving back there have been no substantial change of circumstances although I understand that change is enough that the parenting plan and support need to be adjusted. There have been no substantial changes with the children (ages 11/16) other than the 11 yr old started having major behavioral issues at school this year. The cause of those issues is unknown but the main change in his life this school year has been the return of his Mom. The medication change seems to have leveled him out so not sure that is still even a valid consideration for change. The older child’s grades have dropped some this year but not substantially.

What I feel shows the ex’s true motive is that she was fine with returning to the original court ordered parenting plan from the divorce decree which we have been following since she returned 8 months ago. It wasn’t until she discovered she would still owe child support that she has decided to go after being the custodial parent. She has also filed a motion to abate support and quash income withholding retro back to when she moved into town and for me to pay back 100% of any support that has been garnished since then.

If a status quo has been set over the last 8 months that coincides with the original parenting plan does that have any weight in a judge’s decision?

Not2lceverRed – To answer your question I think she harbored a fantasy where if she moved back into town the support and arrears would all magically disappear. She also harbors a fantasy where she is going to get a judge to agree to have me held in contempt of court for not selling the family home even though I bought her out of half the equity and she signed a quit claim deed stating such. The home value has increased substantially in the last 4 ½ years and she thinks she is entitled to it. This is probably the wrong forum for that discussion.

I’m not looking for definite answers here just opinions based on knowledge of past cases. Thanks again for any feedback.

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