Whether you and your ex-spouse negotiated the terms of your child custody agreement outside of the courtroom or had a judge decide everything, once a final child custody order has been signed by the judge, that order becomes legally binding and must be followed by both parents.
Once a child custody case is finalized, parents may hope that everything has been settled. However, this is not always the case. Life is constantly changing and for many families, a modification of the order is required to ensure the child’s needs are being met.
Reasons to modify a custody order
In California, there are many reasons why one or both parents may want to modify a child custody agreement after it has been finalized. However, courts will only consider modifications that involve a change in circumstances. Some of these major life changes may include:
- Relocation of either parent (moving outside of the area where the child lives)
- Significant change in parent’s work schedule or loss of job
- Significant change in parent’s health
- Child’s needs change based on their age or health
- Child’s preferences (if they are of a certain age and maturity)
- Domestic abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or child neglect
- One parent is keeping the child from the other parent in violation of the order
The parent filing for modification must show that the modification is required to serve the best interests of the child.
How can I file for a modification?
Filing a request for order form (JC Form # FL-300) with the court will be the first step in the process. If the court grants your request, the new custody order will replace the old order and both parents will be expected to follow the terms of the new order. A family law attorney can assist you with the custody modification process to ensure your child’s needs are met.