When Can Custody Orders Be Modified?

When Can Custody Orders Be Modified?

When Can Custody Orders Be Modified?Child custody must always be decided based on the best interests of the child or children involved. However, a variety of factors are involved in making these decisions, and these could change over time. This could mean that the custody orders may need to change as well. Therefore, parents are afforded the opportunity to petition the court for modifications.

However, it’s important to work with a San Diego child custody lawyer when these opportunities arise to ensure that your position is given a strong argument.

Six Reasons Custody Orders Could Be Modified

For a custody order to be changed, there needs to have been a substantial change in circumstances from when the last custody orders were issued. Additionally, this change in circumstances must have had enough of an impact that the old orders are no longer serving the child’s best interests.

This means that in some cases, a particular change in circumstances could result in a change in custody, while in other cases, the same issue would not result in a change if it did not have the same impact on the child’s best interests.

Some of the concerns that could lead to the modification of custody orders include:

  1. A Parent Changing Jobs. When a parent changes jobs, this could impact the amount of time that they are able to spend parenting a child. If there is a significant increase or decrease in the time available, that could warrant a change in custody orders.
  2. A Parent Moving. A parent moving further away, or even out of state, could mean that they will have less available time with the child. It could also mean that the other parent will have less visitation time if the moving parent has physical custody. Inversely, moving closer to the other parent could result in more time. Either case could involve a modification of custody orders.
  3. Development of a Substance Abuse Issue. Generally, exposure to someone with substance abuse issues is not in a child’s best interests, and a parent developing these issues will usually lead to modifications to custody orders.
  4. A Change in the Child’s Desires. If a child is old enough and has sufficient reason for desiring a change in primary custody, their desires could be a reason for modifications of custody orders.
  5. Prevention of Visitation. A parent preventing the other parent from having their allocated time with their children can be a serious issue and could likely lead to modifications.
  6. A Significant Change in a Child’s Behavior or Grades. If there is a sudden change in a child’s grades or if they develop sudden behavioral issues, it could be a sign that the primary parent is not doing a sufficient job. This could lead to modifications in custody orders.

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Q: What Kinds of Child Custody Are There?

A: There are two kinds of child custody that will need to be determined. One of these is physical custody, which addresses where the child will primarily live and how time may be allocated with each parent. Legal custody, on the other hand, involves the decision-making for the child regarding aspects like medical decisions, education, and religious upbringing.

Either kind of custody may be awarded as sole custody, where only one parent has custody, or as joint custody, where both parents are involved. Both kinds of custody need not be awarded in the same way, and there are often circumstances where one parent may have sole physical custody, but the parents share legal custody.

Q: What Criteria Are Used to Determine Child Custody?

A: There are a variety of criteria that a judge may consider when determining the issue of child custody. However, it’s important to remember that they will ultimately only approve a custody plan that is in a child’s best interests.

Some of the factors a judge may consider include the parent’s current relationship with their children and the kind of home and parenting they will be able to provide. History of issues like substance abuse or domestic violence will also be considered. If a child is mature enough, a judge may even consider their wishes as well.

Q: Does Child Custody Impact Child Support Payments?

A: Child custody can have an indirect impact on child support payments. A number of different factors go into determining child support, but the primary objective of these payments is to ensure that the child is properly cared for. Generally, this means that the parent who has the child more frequently will use more resources to care for the child. The child custody ruling will often mean that the parent who has less physical custody will be paying child support to the other parent.

Q: Does the Court Have to Approve Custody Modifications?

A: The court will need to approve custody modification. In some situations where the change is disputed, the court will need to hear both side’s positions in order to make a decision. However, if the modification has been agreed upon by the parents, the judge will often approve the changes without much difficulty.

In both situations, though, the burden of the custody ruling being in the child’s best interests remains, meaning they will not approve an agreed-upon change if it negatively impacts the child’s welfare.

Choose the Right Team to Help With Your Child Custody Issues

Whether because of a divorce or otherwise, child custody is always one of the most sensitive, challenging issues in family law. Most parents want what’s right for their children and would like every opportunity possible to be a part of their child’s life. It’s that love and care that make child custody matters so stressful in some cases. That’s why it’s important that you have the right legal team supporting you in a child custody case.

Bickford Blado & Botros is led by attorney Nancy Bickford, who has been certified in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Our team of talented, dedicated lawyers is ready to help with your child custody concerns, including potential modifications to existing child custody orders. Contact us to discuss your situation and learn how we may be able to help.


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