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When to appeal or modify a child custody order

No matter how a court rules in a child custody decision, it is likely that at least one parent will disagree with the terms of the ruling. If you are in this situation, should you try to appeal the ruling? Are you even allowed to appeal?

In Minnesota, as in most states, child custody awards can be appealed. But doing so is not easy. If your appeal is based on an assertion that the court simply "got it wrong" and inappropriately weighed the relevant factors, the appeal is not likely to succeed.

Instead, you would likely need to argue that the court erred, for instance, by applying an incorrect legal standard when making its decision. Courts are required to make custody determinations in the best interests of child. If the custody ruling was obviously based on a different standard, it might be grounds for an appeal.

Rather than appealing a ruling, you may want to consider seeking a modification of the order. A parent could seek a modification if there were a change in circumstances that might justify the modification. A recent article gives the example of a non-custodial parent moving into a house that gives the child his or her own bedroom. That parent could try to modify the order to allow for overnight stays.

While custody orders can be contentious and even heartbreaking at times, legal options greatly depend on the facts of your specific case. To learn more, please seek the help of an experienced family law attorney.

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