One of the most sensitive issues in many divorce cases is determining the custody of shared children. This process can be emotionally charged and lead to long courtroom battles if both parents are stubborn. California courts’ prime directive for determining custody will always be to rule in favor of what is best for the child. For this reason, it is rare for only one parent to receive sole custody since courts maintain that having two involved parents is better for a child.
If you did not receive the type of custody you were seeking or changes in the situation have made you question whether the current arrangement is best for the child, there are some options for modifying an existing custody order.
What a Judge is Looking For
Under California child custody laws, a judge can only modify your custody order if they find two things. First, there needs to have been a significant change in the circumstances of your case that can be shown to impact the child’s welfare. Secondly, the proposed modification to the custody order needs to be in the best interest of the child.
So while these scenarios are times when a custody order might be modified, the modifications need to make sense with the individual circumstances of the changing situation. Reopening a custody case when you do not have a solid strategic plan for the full scope of the changes is foolish. Consult an attorney before proceeding, so you can familiarize yourself with the typical rulings of family court cases in your area.
Parent’s Situation Changed
A changing situation for one of the parents can be a positive or negative thing for a child. Both angles have been used to change custody agreements. If a parent is released from prison or can show a record of sobriety, they may be able to fight for more parental rights. On the other end, if a parent loses their job and moves to a much smaller home or new school district, this could negatively impact the child’s life.
Changing Needs of the Child
Children have different needs at different stages of their lives, and the lifestyle and location of each parent may be better suited to different conditions. Also, if a child develops any kind of disorder, their needs may drastically change.
Obviously, any kind of abuse or risk of abuse will not be tolerated by the court. In addition to this, any serious mental health concerns for one of the parents may limit their ability to retain custody if they may endanger the child.
Many custody agreements have provisions that limit a parent’s ability to relocate with the child. If a parent is moving and it will make holding to the current agreement impossible, a modification can be made. Relocating could also have an impact on the child’s life for better or worse, and a judge will want to review that.
Parent Breaking Custody Agreement
Whether you arrived at your current custody order through an agreement with the other parents directly or a judge had to make the decision, breaking the terms in your agreement will have consequences. When the other parent is not sticking to the terms you have established, there is an opening for you to propose modifications to the custody order.
A violation of your custody order could be as simple as of late drop offs or taking an out-of-state road trip without informing you. You will need to be certain that they have routinely violated the custody order or flagrantly avoided sticking to the terms. Proper documentation of the custody violations will be necessary for convincing a judge, so make sure to record any violations in case they become a habit.
Contact Your Lawyer
If your situation has changed and you think your custody agreement can be altered, you should reach out to your attorney. Acting quickly will help your odds of success, and an attorney can help you file a request to the court while advisi
About the author:
While she had a solid education in law, Lynda King wanted more than a job as a lawyer. She knew that people needed information and a better understanding of everyday legal matters, so she began writing articles and guidelines to educate individuals and businesses. Now, Lynda is collaborating with Farzad & Ochoa Family Law Attorneys, being proud that her knowledge and writing talent are helping everyone every day.