Parents may be able to mutually agree upon a parenting plan for their children. Sometimes, though, a judge has to decide how child custody will be handled before a divorce is finalized. No matter how or when the decisions were made, there may come a time that parents have to modify child custody arrangements.
Making the Decision
Parenting Plans and child custody arrangements typically are made keeping the best interests of the child in mind. But people and circumstances change. Some of the common reasons for altering a child custody arrangement include:
- Refusing to allow the non-custodial parent to contact or visit the children;
- Putting the children in an unsafe or dangerous environment;
- Relocation of the non-custodial parent.
In addition, children may ask for a change in custody. Children over the age of 12 may be permitted to tell the judge who they want to live with.
Once one or both parents decide that changes should be made, the court becomes involved.
Filing the Paperwork
The parent requesting the change will file a Request for Order with the court. An additional form – the child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment is optional but may be helpful. Remember that you need to show a significant change in circumstances or some compelling reason to modify child custody arrangements.
After filing the Request for Order, you will be given a date to appear in court or to meet with a mediator. Court proceedings can be complicated, especially if the parents are unable to reach their own agreement.
Attending a Hearing
If parents are unable to arrive at a revised custody plan through mediation, they may have to appear in court. The judge may take limited testimony but may rely heavily on the documents filed with the clerk. After making a decision, the judge signs an order altering the terms of the custody arrangement.
It’s Possible to Modify Child Custody Arrangements
However, the court must see significant reasons to change custody before doing so. As always, California courts consider the best interests of the child in making any decisions.To discuss how to modify child custody arrangements, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.