Motion to modify child custody and visitation

I have an existing Child custody and visitation agreement in place with my ex. One of the many reasons that I left was because of his controlling and abusive behavior. For the first year after the separation, I had a restraining order.

He is still as bad , if not worse, and the visits and contact he has with our child have really begun to impact our child. The stress of dealing with him has gotten considerably worse. My 9 year old is showing signs of frustration, anger, anxiety, etc, whenever it comes to dealing with his dad. He has told me he does not want to talk to his dad as much as he does on the phone. He does not want to tell his dad much about what is going on his life since, his dad makes a mountain out of a mole hill no matter what the issue is…

My questions are:

  1. what is involved with filing a motion to change the custody agreement? Does my son have to be evaluated? Does my son have to make a statement about his dad?

  2. I know I have to show a “substantial change in the situation”… If I feel that it is not longer in the child’s best interest or safety or sanity to spend the time with his dad, how do I go about documenting that? What sort of documentation/proof must I have to stand a fighting chance?

  3. would this get sent to mediation first? what if my ex refuses to go to mediation?

  4. How much will all of this cost me?

  5. how long could this possibly take to even be heard in a court? My ex is to have our son for longer periods of time for the summer.


In order to modify an existing Order you must file a motion to modify custody and it must be based on a substantial change in circumstances affecting the child. Psychological evaluations can be ordered upon motion of either party and a court’s finding that good cause exists to order the same.
Your motion should allege the changes that have taken place, and you will have the opportunity to testify to the same at the hearing.
Most counties now require mediation prior to trial.
Depending on your county’s docket it could take several months before the matter can be heard.
Please contact our client liaison to discuss potential fees, and to schedule a consultation with an attorney. The attorney you meet with will be able to give you a better idea of your chances for success based on all the facts.