In the years following the creation of a custody or visitation agreement, you may want to make alterations to the arrangement. A significant life change, such as a move, remarriage, or serious medical condition, for example, can prompt a reevaluation. If both parties agree on the changes, you can file a new agreement with the court. However, if you cannot agree, you will need to file a child custody modification and attend mediation or a hearing. Our child custody attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP, in Stockton, CA, can assist you with this process and work to protect the best interests of both you and your family. Contact our office online or call us at (916) 307-6880 today to learn more.
When to Change a Custody Agreement
There are a variety of reasons you may seek a modification to an existing custody agreement. However, in order for a judge to agree and alter it, you must be able to prove that a “change in circumstances” has occurred since the custody order was made. These may include:
- A career change
- A parent’s criminal acts or convictions
- A medical condition
- The death of one parent
Generally, if there is a clear danger to the health or well-being of the child in their current environment, a judge will consider a modification to the custody order. In addition, once a child reaches the age of 14, they are able to request a change to the custody arrangement.
Modifying a custody order is a complicated process, requiring an advanced understanding of family law.
Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Modifying a custody order is a complicated process, requiring an advanced understanding of family law. Incomplete paperwork or other missteps can significantly lengthen the time necessary to move forward, often resulting in additional fees. Our attorneys at Shore, McKinley & Conger can support you every step of the way to ensure a beneficial outcome for you and your family. Whether you need help drawing up a new agreement or legal representation during a trial or mediation session, our family law attorneys can help.
How to Request a Custody Modification
Altering an existing custody order is often a complex process, especially if one parent opposes the changes. In California, the steps for changing a custody agreement generally include:
- Fill out a Request for Order form: In this document, you can explain your reasoning for requesting the change. You can also fill out a Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment with more detailed information about visits, holidays, and other aspects of the new parenting plan.
- Consult a legal professional: Before submitting any forms, have an attorney from our firm or a family law facilitator review your paperwork.
- Make copies: After providing the original document to the court, you will need to retain one copy and provide your child’s other parent with one as well.
- File your forms: The court clerk will keep the original and return the two copies to you with an official “Filed” stamp. You will have to pay a fee for filing.
- Receive a court or mediation date: The court clerk can tell you whether you need to attend a mediation session before the court date.
- Serve your papers: A third party must serve the other parent with a copy of your papers, as well as a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order form before your court date. You may need to serve other documents as well.
- File your Proof of Personal Service: Your server will fill out this document so you can file it with the court. If you served your papers by mail, you will need a Proof of Service by Mail form instead.
- Attend all necessary appointments: Many judges will require you and the other parent to attend mediation and discuss your parenting plan. If you cannot reach a decision, you will need to attend a hearing before a judge.
Before signing off on any custody modifications, the judge will consider all aspects of the decision and determine whether the changes are in the best interests of the child or children.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
We understand that family law matters can be emotionally draining, especially so when children are involved. Our attorneys have been providing guidance to clients since 1986 and will advocate vigorously on your behalf. Learn more about our custody services by contacting us online or calling (916) 307-6880 to speak to a member of our team today.