Can my ex petition for joint custody after all these years?

Additional Information:

I have been divorced almost 10 years now and was awarded sole custody of our now 16 year-old son.   My ex-wife has recently expressed an interest in now forming a relationship him.  My question is can my wife petition for a divorce modification for joint custody now?  My son and I live in the Natick area and she lives about 90 minutes away, so not sure how that would even work.  How should I proceed?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Your ex-wife can certainly file a Complaint for Modification, but she is unlikely to succeed in getting joint custody.  By the way, do you have sole legal and physical custody? Your question didn’t specify.

Your son is 16 years old and will certainly have a say in this.  Does he want to have a relationship with his mother?   Also, why do you have sole custody?  Was your ex-wife deemed unfit?  Has her circumstances changed?  In order for her to succeed, she will first have to show the Court that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred and that change in circumstances warrants a change in the order.  Keep in mind that Courts like to see children have a good relationship with their parents. 

Another thing to consider is that the Court might appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to investigate and report back to the Court on what is best for your son.  The GAL would interview both you and your ex-wife, as well as your son.  He or she would also likely interview collaterals and then he/she would draft a report for the Court that will likely include recommendations for what is in your son’s best interests.

You rightly point out that the 90 mile difference in your residences may be an issue.  However, you state that your son is 16 years old.  Does he drive?  If not and the Court rules in favor of your ex-wife having visits, the Court may order that she do the traveling or that you share in the burden.  However, I would argue that if there are going to be visits, there should be a trial period where your ex-wife does the travel and then a review at a later date to report to the Court how they are going.

The Natick Divorce Attorneys  at Leone Law Offices represent clients throughoutthe Greater Boston Metrowest region including the communities of: Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Marlborough, Natick, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, and Wayland.

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