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Legal Information: District of Columbia

Custody

Laws current as of April 5, 2024

Can a parent who does not have custody have access to the child’s records?

Only a parent who has sole or joint legal custody over the child has the right to access the child’s school, medical, dental, and psychological records and the right to speak with and obtain information regarding the child from school officials, health care providers, counselors, or other persons interacting with the child.1 If one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent can choose whether or not to share those records with the non-custodial parent (unless the custody order specifically says that the parent must share those records).

1 D.C. Code § 16-914(a)(2)(B)

Can I change my custody order?

You or the other parent can ask the judge to terminate (end) or modify (change) your custody order (or the judge can do it on his/her own if appropriate). In order to change (or terminate) a custody order, you have to prove that there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances” and that changing or terminating the custody order would be in the child’s best interest.1

1 D.C. Code § 16-914(f)

If I move to a new state, can I transfer my child custody case there?

After a final custody order is issued, there may come a time when you and your children move to a different state. For information about how to request to transfer the custody case to a new state, please go to the Transferring a custody case to a different state section in our general Custody page. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may likely first need to get permission from the court or from the other parent to move your children out of state. Please talk to a lawyer to make sure your plans to move don’t violate your custody order or your state’s parental kidnapping laws.