Either parent can ask the state to modify child custody if the parenting plan no longer fits their needs. This often occurs as children get older or as parents remarry, move to a new residence or change jobs.
Review the process of modifying child custody in California.
When parents agree
If parents reach an agreement about custody modification, they can submit their new parenting plan to the court for approval. Both parents must complete and sign the Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or Visitation of Children. The court facilitator will make sure this form is correct before it goes to the judge for approval. If the judge signs off, the new plan becomes legally binding.
When parents do not agree
A parent must petition the court for custody modification if the other parent does not agree with the proposed changes. In this case, he or she must show that circumstances have changed since the court issued the initial custody order. The proposed change must serve the child’s best interest and create or maintain a secure, stable home environment. In some cases, the court may require mediation before scheduling a modification hearing.
The parent requesting the modification must include the reason for the changes in the filed petition along with a new parenting plan proposal. The parent who does not want custody to change can present evidence indicating that a new custody schedule would not serve the child’s best interest.
Some of the factors that the court will review in determining the child’s best interest include his or her adjustment to school, relationships with other family members, and his or her preference depending on age.