When a child custody arrangement is set in the final divorce settlement, it is not set in stone. Life situations change and circumstances occur, which may require the court to revisit and change the original custody arrangement.
Since the court makes decisions based on the best interests of the child, situations that impact the child’s best interests may require a custody modification. Knowing the child modification process may help to ensure the best outcome for your child.
When is it time to modify?
As time goes on, life changes and the child’s needs may evolve. Parents’ lives may also change in a way that makes it difficult to honor the current custody agreement. The custody and visitation plan may need to be reviewed every two or three years.
A serious life change is often reason enough for a modification request, according to the California Courts. Some life changes may include the following:
- A parent loses their job or has a sudden decrease in income
- A parent is incarcerated
- A parent moves a significant distance away
- A parent dies
- A parent becomes unable to continue care for the child
If the child is in an abusive or dangerous environment, an immediate change of custody will be made as well.
Where should you start?
If both parents agree on the custody modification, you can file an agreement with the court. The court will review the modification request and make a final determination. If one parent wants the custody change, they must file papers requesting modification of the original order. It is important to state in the papers the reason why a modification is necessary. You may want to also include a proposal for the new custody arrangement.
Although the court may not always approve the change, it will carefully review the details of the situation.