Modifying Child Custody in California

When parents either divorce or separate, the court may issue a child custody order that outlines the custody arrangement. However, the current order may no longer serve either parent or their children over time because things may change in life. 

Fortunately, parents may modify a child custody order – as well as child support or spousal support order – through family court. So long as you can show the court that there is a significant change of circumstances, and the modification is in the best interest of the child. 

The following are the most common reasons a judge will grant child custody modification: 

  • A parent’s situation has changed – If one parent has been fired, demoted, or otherwise experiences a dramatic change in income level and is no longer able to provide the expected level of care for his/her child, then the other parent may gain custody. Additionally, a change in the non-custodial parent’s work schedule may require modifying the visitation schedule. 

  • A parent plans to relocate the child – If the custodial parent wishes to relocate with the child to another city or state because of a new or more lucrative job offer, to be closer to more family members, or to give his/her children more opportunities in life, then the court may modify the child custody order if the move is in the child’s best interests. 

  • A parent fails to follow the current custody order – Each parent is required to follow the court order. If one parent refuses to follow the terms by withholding custody or visitation, then the court will generally consider child custody modification if either parent has not followed the current order or if there has been a lack of communication between both parties. 

  • The child’s needs have changed – A child who is at least 14 years old may decide which parent he/she would like to live with, which may subsequently result in child custody modification. Additionally, if a child develops a physical, mental, or emotional disorder and one parent is better suited to care for the child, then a judge may modify the current order. 

  • The child is in danger – If the child’s living situation poses a physical, mental, or emotional risk, whether the danger is domestic violence or alcohol/drug abuse, then the court will modify the current order. 

If both parents agree on the changes, then they can change their current order by formalizing the agreement, which consists of creating a new parenting plan and having a judge sign off. If the parents cannot agree, then the case will likely to go court. 

If you are interested in modifying a current child custody order in Elk Grove or Fremont, contact Samra Dhillon & Associates today at (916) 571-1550 to learn how we can help you. Our legal team has more than four decades of legal experience!