What If I Don’t Agree With the Child Custody Decision?

Family law cases can be a watershed moment in a person’s life.  Everything can be measured before what comes “before” and what comes “after.” Child custody determinations are often at the very center of the most complicated and hotly contested cases.  Child custody cases can be a part of a divorce, be coupled with a child support issue, or even be a completely stand-alone case.

You and your family law attorney will work hard before the case goes to trial to properly prepare, organize evidence, and arrange your case in the way that is most likely to convince the judge that your proposal for the child is in their best interest.  If the trial does not result in a favorable outcome, you may be left wondering what are the next steps you can take.


One thing you can do if you do not agree with the child custody decision made by the judge is to file an appeal.  An appeal is not the same as receiving a new trial.  In an appeal, your family law attorney will write a brief to the appellate court explaining what the trial court judge got wrong.  If you are successful in an appeal, the appellate court may order a new trial or in rare cases, render a new decision.

Appeals are highly technical with very strict deadlines.  If you are thinking of pursuing an appeal, you should speak with a child custody lawyer about your options.  As the deadlines for appeal can run quickly, you should not delay.


Another option if you do not agree with the child custody decision is to file a request to modify the custody order.  With this option, you and your family law attorney will file a petition telling the court that there has been a material and substantial change since the entry of the last order and that your new proposal is in the best interest of the children.

Note that you will need to prove that there have been some material changes since the last order.  This almost always means that you will need to wait for a time after the entry of the order.  As time goes by, you can start making notes and collecting evidence as to how and why the current order is not working for the children.

The types of evidence you will want to note and collect will vary depending on the reasons you do not agree with the child custody order.  For example, if you believe the order entered is not best for the children because it will have a negative impact on their grades, you should start keeping track of the children’s grades.  Calling the children’s teachers as witnesses at a modification trial can also help convince the court that the original order is bad for the children and it should be modified.

As with an appeal, granting a modification does not mean getting a total “re-do” of the original trial.  You and your family attorney will be limited to presenting evidence about events that occurred after the entry of the original order.

Just Wait

In some cases, even if you do not think the original order will benefit your child, it may be best to simply wait it out.  This is usually the case with older children.  In those cases, it is possible that the child would turn eighteen and no longer be subject to the child custody order before you can get a court to modify the order or get an appeal completed.

Before proceeding with choosing an appeal or a modification, if you have an older child, it is important to discuss all the options with your family lawyer.  He or she can give you an approximate timeline as to how long the case could take and whether it would be worth your time and effort to continue fighting the original order.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with all stages of a child custody dispute.  If you have questions about how the system works and what to do about your child custody order, contact us today.  We can help you understand your options.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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