When should Child Custody be Modified?

Good Estate Planning After A Divorce
November 24, 2021

After a divorce, child custody agreements are set in place. While these agreements state they are “permanent” or “final” that does not mean they can’t be modified. As children grow up or when circumstances change significantly, it’s totally appropriate to modify an agreement to reflect changes and needed adjustments.

When Should Child Custody Be Modified

When Can Custody be Modified?

After a judge has finalized a divorce order, one or both of the parents may wish to update or change the child custody plan. Every few years parents can renegotiate parts of the parenting agreement. If both parents agree to the changes, then the court order can be changed to reflect the agreed-upon modifications. If one of the parents does not agree to the changes, the other must file asking for a modification. Child custody orders can only be modified if the circumstances they were made on have changed, or if one of the parents has violated a court order. In order for the modification to be accepted by the courts, you need to have proof that the modification is in the best interest of the child. 

Reasons for Child Custody Modification

There are many reasons for a child custody modification. Not all of them are contentious. Some common reasons to make a child custody modification include:

  • Change of location (parent moves closer or farther away, or if one parent wants to move with the child)
  • Change of work schedule 
  • Child is now old enough to want a choice as to whom they would like to live with
  • Child’s needs have changed
  • Child is in danger
  • Parent is not being responsible
  • Parent has violated the custody agreement

Process for Modifying Custody

The process for modifying a child custody order is a lengthy and paperwork-heavy process. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you with the process in order to ensure everything goes smoothly and accordingly. There are two situations that can arise from a request to modify custody. One, the other parent agrees to the new arrangement (non-contested). Two, the other party does not agree to the new arrangement (contested). In both cases, the process is pretty much the same except when it comes to mediation. 

  1. Fill out appropriate forms.

In these documents, you need to explain why a change in the child custody agreement is necessary and beneficial to your child. You can also include a new suggested custody/visitation arrangement.

  1. Have a lawyer review the forms.

A family law lawyer will make sure you have filled out all the information properly and ensure you have all the necessary documents.

  1. Make copies. 

You will need to make two copies of the completed forms. One is for you, one for the other party involved. The original document will be filed with the courts. 

  1. File forms with the clerk’s court and pay the fee.

Bring all three versions of the document with you. The original will be filed and the other two copies will be given back to you and stamped. You will also have to pay a filing fee which can range from $200-$400. There are fee waivers if you cannot afford the fee. 

  1. Get your court date and set up mediation. 

After you file your request, the clerk should give you a court date. If mediation is required, you will need to set up a mediation service prior to the court date. 

  1. Serve the court papers. 

A third party must give a copy of the filed forms to the other parent. This can be done through the mail, another legal adult, a sheriff, a professional server, etc.

  1. Proof of Served Papers

The court needs to have proof that the papers were served to the other party. A form must be completed by the third party and filed by the parent at the court. The third party is required to fill out one of these documents:

  1. Go to Mediation or Court Date

If required, you will need to attend your mediation before going to court. Mediation is optional in some cases, but it can help both parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement. In the state of California, any contested custody or visitation issue is required to go through the county’s mediation service. This is meant to help the parents resolve the issue on their own. If the mediation does not resolve a contested issue, then the issue will be resolved in court. 

If the modification is approved, the judge will sign the court order and the necessary forms will be filed by legal counsel. 

Hiring a Custody Modification Lawyer

In most cases, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced child custody modification lawyer. They can ensure all the necessary documents are filed on time and in the appropriate manner. This can save you the headache of having to deal with the courts and navigating the legal process on your own. With extensive custody modification experience, Robert Glasser and the staff of the Newport Divorce Attorney offices are here to help you determine when custody should be modified. 

Are you thinking about filing for a child custody modification? Contact Newport Divorce Attorney so we can help you get the results you want. Call us today (949) 752-2727, or visit our website for more information. 

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