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When Can Child Custody Be Modified in California?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Los Gatos child custody modification attorneyDuring a divorce, or after the birth of a child to an unmarried mother, decisions must be made about how child custody and visitation will be handled. After these matters are settled, and a plan is put in place, it may remain in effect until the child reaches adulthood. However, there are some circumstances in which a child custody agreement could and/or should be modified. A custody modification, however, is not something to be taken lightly. Typically, the parents must either be in agreement about the change, or there must have been a “change in circumstances.”

What Is a Change in Circumstances?

If you feel your child custody or visitation agreement should be changed, and the child’s other parent disagrees, then you will have to petition for a modification through the legal system. You may end up having to meet with a mediator or go before a judge to plead your case. You will not get anywhere in your quest, however, unless you can show that there has been a significant “change in circumstances” since the original parenting plan was put in place.

This means that there must have been some major change or big event in the child’s or the parent’s life that makes the previous custody arrangement no longer viable. The reason has to be significant, and the focus will be on the best interests of the child. A parent typically will not be able to have a child custody agreement changed without proving that this change to the child’s regular routine will be beneficial to the child.

What Are Some Valid Reasons for Custody Modification?

There are many reasons that a judge may consider a modification necessary, including:

  • A child’s needs have changed, and one parent or the other is better equipped to handle those needs.
  • A parent has moved to a new location that would force the child to change schools or to a home that does not provide appropriate living quarters for the child.
  • A parent has a new partner or has made another change to their living arrangements that is detrimental to the child.
  • A parent has been arrested or experienced a life change that could put the child at risk.

How Does the Modification Process Work?

In order to change an existing order, a parent must fill out the proper forms and explain his or her thoughts on why a custody change is needed. An attorney can go through these forms with you to ensure that you have entered all the proper information. The forms will be filed with the court clerk, and a copy of the petition will be served to the other parent. A court date will be set, and you must attend this hearing in order to have the matter resolved by a judge. In some cases, a mediator may be assigned so that parents can agree on the matter without going to court.

Hire an Experienced Los Gatos, CA, Child Custody Lawyer

Changing a child custody order can be tricky, so it will pay to have the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca on your side. You will need a knowledgeable Los Gatos divorce modification attorney to help you navigate your custody or visitation case. Call our office at 408-395-8822 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.courts.ca.gov/1187.htm

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