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Legal Information: Puerto Rico


December 13, 2019

If a custody or visitation order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

Because an order for custody and visitation is determined based on the best interest of the child, normally it is not permanent. If there is an existing custody or visitation order, it is possible that the court can amend it.1 In order to do so, you have the right to present an application in which you explain to the court the reasons for requesting a the change. Usually the court will evaluate whether:

  • amending the custody and/or visitation order is in the best interest of the minor child; and
  • there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was issued.1

1 32 L.P.R.A. sec. 3188

Can a parent who doesn’t get custody or patria potestad (legal custody) or that is not content with the existing order, change it?

A parent who has been denied custody and patria potestad will have the right to regain custody/patria potestad if they can prove to the court that the other parent has died or that regaining custody or patria potestad is in the best interest of the child.1 Usually, the judges will also decide whether there has been a substantial change to the circumstances since the order was issued.

1 31 L.P.R.A. § 383

If there is a custody order in place, can I take my kids out of state?

It depends.  Generally, in most states, a parent can take his/her kids out of the state for a brief trip as long as there is no order prohibiting it and so long as it does not interfere with the other parent’s visitation rights.1  However, if you are uncertain whether a planned trip may violate your custody order, please consult with a lawyer before leaving.

If you want to permanently move out of state (or move within the state to a distant location that would interfere with the other parent’s visitation schedule), then you may have to return to court to try to modify the order to get permission to move and to change the terms of the court order.  As with any modification of a custody order, in order to get permission to move, you must prove to the judge that moving would be in the best interest of your child.  As with all custody issues, it is probably best to talk to a lawyer about this matter.  Please visit our PR Finding a Lawyer page.