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Top Reasons for Child Custody Modification

A child custody lawyer helps parents who are divorcing or separating when they have a shared child or children. An attorney can provide assistance to parents who want to negotiate a parenting plan for splitting time with their kids. Out-of-court negotiation is usually best for all family members. An attorney also assists couples who cannot agree on how to share custody and who have to litigate the issue. In these circumstances, the judge decides on custody based on what is in the best interests of the child.child custody lawyer

Whether a judge enters a custody order or parents create a legally binding parenting agreement, both parents must abide by the custody arrangement. If either parent fails to follow the rules and share custody, this can have serious consequences- up to accusations of parental kidnapping in some cases.

Sometimes, however, an existing custody arrangement will stop working for the family. When this happens, child custody modification must be sought. You should never just change custody arrangements without going to court and having the change made official, as this could leave you vulnerable to accusations of wrongdoing or further disputes about custody later.  An Irvine child custody lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can help you if you want to have a custody arrangement modified.

Understanding the Rules for California Child Custody

After a custody order is entered, it is usually preferable for the parents to leave the status quo in place and to follow the parenting time plan for as long as possible. Children need stability and if their routine is the same and they know what to expect, this can promote a healthier environment.

There may, however, come a time when modification is needed. There are many reasons why modification can become necessary, but it is important to understand when and why custody orders are actually modified. Understanding the rules for custody modification is can help you to determine if you’re likely to prevail when you pursue a case to change your own custody plan.  The good news is, the rules for custody modification are very similar to the rules for determining custody originally: the best interests of the child standard is used in both situations.

California Family Code sections 3040-3049 provide details on many of the factors that are considered when assessing who should get custody and when child custody should be modified.  For example, under code section 3024(a), a child who is of sufficient age and reason should have his wishes considered when the court considers modifying custody or visitation. Under code section 3044(a), on the other hand, the court makes clear that a finding of domestic violence or child abuse creates a rebuttable presumption that giving the abuser sole or joint custody would be detrimental to a child’s bests interests.

The court will consider these and other factors if asked to modify custody when the parents do not both want the change. If both parents agree custody should be changed, then a modification will typically be granted simply upon the filing of a joint motion.

Why Do Custody Orders Get Modified in California?

Child custody orders get modified if both parents think it is the right thing to do, or if the parent seeking the modification can successfully prove that a material change in circumstances led to the need for modification.

The parent seeking the modification would need to show why a change is in the child’s best interests.  Situations where a material change in circumstances could justify a modification if parents show a change is in a child’s best interest include:

  • If either parent has to relocate. A parent’s relocation is a common reason for a custody change to be made. If the child will be leaving with the relocating parent, it is usually important for provisions to be made for the child to have continued visitation with the other parent.
  • If evidence of abuse or neglect comes to light. Abuse or neglect can result in the parent who is perpetrating the bad behavior losing access to the child or being limited to supervised visitation.
  • If either parent develops a serious mental or physical illness that affects the parent’s ability to provide care.

These and other situations are examples of times when something has profoundly changed and custody must be altered. An attorney can help you to determine if your situation constitutes a material change in circumstances.

How Can an Irvine Child Custody Lawyer Help You?

An Irvine child custody lawyer at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide assistance to parents in their initial custody case as well as when modifications are sought. To learn more about how we can help you, give us a call at (866)237-8129 or contact us online today.