After a divorce, it can be difficult to co-parent. People do not always agree on the best way to parent their children. They may let their feelings get in the way and talk bad about the other parent in front of the child. Although these things may seem harmless, they could actually affect your custody arrangement. In a recent case out of Morgan County, the Court of Appeals decided this exact issue.
The parties divorced in 2013. The father was granted sole custody of the oldest child, and the parties shared joint custody for their other three children. Two years later, the mother filed a motion to modify her custody time with the children. At trial, the court awarded the mother sole legal and physical custody of all four children. The father appealed the decision.
The father argued that the trial court should not have been allowed to modify custody. He reasoned that because the mother only sought to increase her time with the children, he did not have notice of the intent to fully change the custody arrangement. At trial, the mother testified that she while she was not seeking sole custody, she did want to change the current arrangement to give her more time with the children.
Furthermore, the attorney appointed to represent the best interest of the children recommended that the mother be awarded sole physical custody. The Court of Appeals also pointed out a previous case that had stated anything concerning the child could be decided as long as the initial motion showed that the safety of a child required a custody decision. For these reasons, the Court of Appeals ruled that the trial did not exceed its authority to change the custody arrangement without notice to the father.
The Court of Appeals then discussed the standards the mother must meet in order to modify custody. It noted that because the father had sole custody of the oldest child, the mother had to show that the modification would “materially promote the child’s welfare”. However, because they shared custody of the three other children, the mother only had to show that it was in the best interest of the children to change the custody arrangement.
According to the evidence presented, the father had been making it difficult to co-parent. He often spoke badly about the mother. The two parents also disagreed about fundamental issues regarding the children. The Court of Appeals decided that the evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion to modify custody of the children.
The ability to co-parent is crucial in making custody determinations. Although some people may think it is not a big deal, the courts use this as one of the factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, no matter how you feel about the other parent, it is best to resolve your parenting differences in a respectful manner.
If you are going through a custody dispute, give Joseph A. Ingram of INGRAM LAW LLC a call. He has the experience needed to resolve your legal issues. Call today at 205-335-2640 to schedule a free consultation.