So, You Want to Change Child Custody

Suppose you have had a child custody order in place for six months, a year, or maybe even several years, but now, things have changed and you feel the arrangement should be altered to better accommodate your child and their best interests. After all, children’s needs change significantly as they get older.

In many situations, it’s a change in the custodial parent’s circumstances that give rise to a change in custody. “What types of changes?” you might ask. The custodial parent may have remarried and the child does not get along with the new stepparent. The custodial parent may have developed a severe mental illness, they may have been in an accident, or fallen ill with a terminal disease, such as cancer.

More common reasons to change custody include:

  • The custodial parent is incarcerated
  • The child gets along better with the noncustodial parent
  • The custodial parent wants to move away, but the child wants to stay behind because they don’t want to leave their friends, family, and school
  • The custodial parent is neglectful or abusive toward the child

Child Custody Orders Are Open-Ended

In the eyes of the family courts, child custody orders are open-ended. Meaning, they’re subject to change. As such, it is typical for a child custody order to be changed not once, but several times before a child reaches the age of 18.

According to the California Courts, after a judge issues a child custody order, either parent may want to have it changed. If both parents agree on the change, usually the judge will approve the new custody and visitation order. However, if the parents do not agree on the change, the parent who wants the change can ask the court to change or modify the existing order. That parent will have to attend a court hearing and convince the judge that it is in the child’s best interests to modify the child custody order.

Next: Should the Richer Parent Get Custody?

To learn more about modifying a child custody order, we invite you to contact Cutter & Lax by calling (818) 839-2533.