When Can You File for a Modification of Child Custody Orders?

You may seek a modification of child custody and visitation orders at any time.  The court may find a visitation and/or child custody order modification “necessary or proper” if it’s in the child’s best interest [Ca Fam § 3022].  The parent who seeks the child custody modification will need to show the court a “significant change of circumstances” to support the modification request.
As a practical matter, many parents seek to change custody and have their request granted without showing a significant change of circumstances, or they or their attorneys create such a change of circumstances to justify their request.

Some Common Reasons for Seeking a Change of Custody Include:

  • The non-custodial parent’s work schedule changed
  • The non-custodial parent moved closer to the other parent
  • Child’s preference-the child desired to live with or spend more time with the non-custodial parent
  • One parent is being an irresponsible parent-not getting child to school on time or doing poorly in school, substance abuse issues, etc.
  • A parent seeks relocation outside of the geographic area where the child has resided, called a “move away case”

If you believe that your child should be spending more time with you and less with the other parent, consult with your attorney to explore your options.

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