Just about every parent knows that as soon as it seems like you’ve figured out co-parenting, something changes.

As such, it is important to revisit your child support and custody orders from time to time if you share custody of your child. In some cases, and in light of certain changes, it can be wise to modify the plans.

What might modification look like?

Depending on the situation that is prompting a modification, which we discuss below, you could modify child-related orders in a few different ways.

  • You might seek an increase or decrease in parenting time
  • You could request that the courts recalculate support payments
  • You might reorganize your parenting plan

These modifications could be temporary or permanent, but in either case, the courts must approve changes for them to be enforceable.

What changes can lead to modification?

Changes that might warrant modification of parenting time or child support include:

  • Substantial change in either parent’s financial resources/income
  • Parental incarceration or incapacity
  • Significant change in either parent’s capabilities
  • Moving away (either parent or child)
  • Significant change in a parent or child’s medical needs
  • A parent has another child or gets remarried
  • Extended job loss or significant change in a parent’s job (increase in travel, shift changes, etc.)

The passage of time could also be a reason for modification, especially in the case of child custody modification. Every few years, all parents can review their custody plan and renegotiate an agreement if doing so would be in the child’s best interests.

Know your legal options

Understand that modification requests to the court are not always successful. Sometimes they are unnecessary or they do not reflect what is best for the child. Further, making changes informally or without the court’s consent could lead to confusion and potentially serious legal penalties. At a minimum, parents should put their informal decisions in writing to avoid confusion down the road.

With all this in mind, California parents should consider seriously the option of discussing a specific situation with an attorney. There could be a lot on the line, and mistakes could cause problems that are not easily fixed.