If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?
Because custody is decided based on what is in the best interest of the child, an order is not usually permanent. If you have a custody order already in place, you can ask the court to make changes to it (modify it).
Generally, the judge will not change the custody order unless there are new facts that were not available to the judge at the time the last order was made, or there has been a "substantial (material) change in circumstances." The law specifically names one possible change in circumstances as follows: If, at any time, the judge finds that one parent has shown a pattern of purposefully creating conflict in an attempt to disrupt a joint-custody arrangement, the judge can consider such behavior as a material change of circumstances and can change a joint custody order to an order of primary custody to the non-disruptive parent.*
To modify a custody order, you usually need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved. Generally, once a court has jurisdiction (the power to hear the case), that court will keep jurisdiction over all future custody decisions. In some situations, if you and your child have moved, you can ask the court to change the jurisdiction to the new state, or county, that you are in. For more information, see our Changing a final custody order section of our general Custody page. Trying to change the venue (location) of a case can be complicated and if you have moved to a new state, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer for help and advice. Go to the AR Finding a Lawyer page to find someone who can help you.
* A.C.A. § 9-13-101(b)(1)(A)(iii)