Requesting custody modification in California

| May 4, 2020 | Child Custody, English

If your family’s custody arrangement no longer fits your child’s needs, a modification may be in order. California courts recommend reviewing parenting plans every two to three years and updating when required.

Learn more about the process for modifying your family’s California parenting plan.

When parents agree

If parents come to terms on the changes without going to court, they can simply enter an agreement to change the parenting plan. Both parents must complete and file the following forms with the county court where the child lives:

  • Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or Visitation of Children
  • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment
  • Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment
  • Additional Provisions — Physical Custody Attachment
  • Joint Legal Custody Attachment

The judge will review and sign these forms. The new agreement becomes legally binding and supersedes the old agreement.

When parents disagree

Either parent can ask for a judicial review and modification of the parenting plan. The parent requesting the change must illustrate a significant change in circumstances that creates the need for an updated custody order to serve the child’s most favorable interests. This supports the state’s preference for a stable custody arrangement throughout childhood.

Complete the Request for Order form and submit to the county court where your child lives. The clerk will provide a mediation or hearing date depending on the circumstances with your case. You must officially serve the other child’s parent with a copy of the legal paperwork at least 16 days before the court date and file proof of legal service with the court. He or she will have a chance to respond to your request.

At the hearing date, the judge will hear the case from both sides and decide whether a change in custody is the most favorable option for the child. The judge will review each person’s health status, the child’s adjustment to his or her current school and community, the reason for the move, and other factors.

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