It is common for divorcing parents to hear that they can modify their child support agreement if their financial circumstances change considerably. But what about other agreements, such as the custody agreement and parenting plan? When can parents change those agreements?

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common reasons parents modify their custody agreements or parenting plans.

1. If the current agreement isn’t working

Of course, parents can move forward with changing their custody agreement or parenting plan if it is simply not working. This might occur if:

  • Either parents’ schedule consistently interferes with the agreement;
  • The child’s schedule does not work with the agreement;
  • One parent is not adhering to the agreement; or
  • Significant life changes prevent a parent from adhering to the agreement as it is.

It takes some time for the family to get used to the new normal of the custody agreement immediately after the divorce, but after a while, it should not cause the family too much stress. If the stress continues, parents might need to revisit their custody agreement.

2. If one parent is moving

Regardless of which parent it is or whether they are moving in or out of California, parents should review their custody agreement when a parent plans to relocate. The location and distance between each parent’s home can have a significant impact on the custody arrangement, parenting time and even the custody exchange itself.

In these cases, parents might have to create a brand new agreement.

3. As the child ages

The child’s needs – and best interests – will change as the child grows. Parents should review their parenting plan and custody arrangement every few years to ensure they continue to meet their child’s needs.

Older children might also wish to have more input in where they live, as well as which parent they live with. When children are 14 or older, they can state their preference for the custody arrangement. If their preference lines up with the child’s best interests, then it might be necessary to revise the custody agreement.

The good news is, it is possible to adjust child custody agreements or parenting plans if they are not meeting the family’s needs. Co-parents can collaborate to propose the changes, but there is still an extensive process required to change the custody agreement. On top of that, a California family law judge will generally still need to approve the new agreement before families can use it.