Child custody can be a point of contention and concern for California couples during a divorce. Even if a couple’s marriage has eroded to the point of hostility, it isn’t uncommon for both partners to agree on one thing: they want what’s best for their child. Fortunately, the California courts approach child custody cases with the same goal in mind.
Despite the stressors of divorce, parents may take comfort in the fact that no child custody arrangement is truly set in stone. More often than not, the court not only understands the need to amend a parenting plan, but anticipates the need to make such modifications as the child continues to grow and develop.
Whether a parent simply wants to extend vacation time or wishes to alter the custody terms altogether, it’s imperative to follow all legal procedures meticulously when petitioning for a parenting plan modification.
Keep reading to learn more about the steps required of parents wishing to modify a current custody arrangement in California.
Under California law, a parent may request a parenting plan modification at any time. However, there is never a guarantee that such requests will be granted, as the court must determine whether the proposal is in the best interests of the child.
There are various reasons that a parent may find it necessary to modify a current parenting plan. It’s normal for a child’s needs to change with age, especially when they grow old enough to express their own preferences. This may also occur if the child develops a medical condition or mental health disorder that may require a modified schedule to best accommodate the child’s care.
In other cases, substantial changes in the parent’s life may warrant a child custody order modification, such as relocation, a parent refusing to comply with the current arrangement, evidence of child abuse, or unsafe living conditions.
Whatever the case, parents should educate themselves on the legal processes involved in modifying a custody order, as this will maximize their chance of success in court.
To warrant a modification to the current parenting plan, the petitioner (the parent requesting the modification) must be prepared to prove a substantial change in circumstances—the legal ground required to modify a custody arrangement in the state of California.
Parents should keep in mind that, to warrant the modification, the “change in circumstances” must directly correlate to the best interests of the child. Put simply, the proposed modification must be determined as necessary for the child’s safety and wellbeing.
Common examples of circumstantial changes that may warrant a custody arrangement modification include (but aren’t limited to):
In California, it’s rare for parents to modify a parenting plan without going to court.
The only possible way to avoid a mandatory custody modification hearing in California is if both parents agree on the proposed changes and write a new parenting plan to reflect those changes.
In these cases, the court will generally order both parents to attend mediation to formally officialize the new parenting plan. Mediation entails both parents sitting down with a neutral third party who can help minimize conflict and facilitate constructive conversation to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. The mediation process can be an effective way for parents to cut legal costs, avoid unnecessary escalations, and retain a sense of privacy within the family.
If for whatever reason both parents can no longer agree on the terms of the new arrangement, they must appear before a judge to establish and finalize the amended arrangement.
Unless both parents agree to all aspects of a proposed custody modification, a parent wishing to modify a current parenting plan must take the appropriate steps to file a claim with the court. Consider the following steps to amend a child custody order in California:
Our compassionate legal team at Creative Family Solutions, Cianci Law, PC has over six decades of collective experience to best serve the needs of California families. We understand how emotional familial disputes can be, especially when children and loved ones are involved. This is why our firm is committed to helping each client navigate family matters as efficiently and painlessly as possible.
Whether you require legal assistance with a divorce, adoption, or allegations of child abuse, our skilled family law attorneys can help you build the strongest case possible and fight tirelessly to obtain the result you desire in court.
Our team has a proven track record of success representing families in Roseville, Sacramento, and the surrounding areas. Familial legal disputes often entail high stakes for all parties involved. In some cases, forgoing your right to reliable legal representation can be a costly mistake. Turn to a trusted family law firm backed with six decades of legal experience.
Whether you’re preparing for a divorce, child custody case, or other familial dispute, you deserve experienced representation from a family lawyer you can count on. Call (916) 797-1575 to schedule a consultation.
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