If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?
Because custody is ongoing and the issues around it may change over time, an order is never permanent. If you have a custody order already in place, you can ask the court to make changes to it or modify it.
Generally, the judge will not change the custody order unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances from when the original custody decision was made. In Alabama, if a judge finds that domestic or family violence has occurred since the last custody decision, that may be considered to be a substantial change in circumstances.*
To modify a custody order, you will need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved. Generally, once a court has jurisdiction, that court will keep jurisdiction, even if you move. If you move to a new county, you may be able to move your case to the new county if the other parent and your children have moved to that new county, too. If you are the custodial parent, and you and your child have moved to another county for more than three years, you have a right to have future custody decisions made by a court in your new home county.**
If you have moved to a new state or if both parents and the child have moved away from the original state, you can ask the court to change the jurisdiction to the new state that you and your child are in. This is often complicated, and as with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this. Go to the AL Finding a Lawyer page to find legal help in your area.
* Alabama Code § 30-3-134
** Alabama Code § 30-3-5