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Modification of child custody: Things to know

When you divorce, you'll work with your ex-spouse to create a child custody agreement that's mutually acceptable to both individuals. However, as the days go by, you may realize that a child custody agreement modification is necessary to maintain order.

While a modification of child custody is often necessary if your ex neglects to follow the terms and conditions, this isn't always the cause. For example, as your children get older, they may be involved in more extracurricular activities. This may call for a change of the child custody and visitation agreements.

What steps should you take?

If you have reason to believe it's time to modify your child custody agreement, there are two ways of doing so:

  • An agreement with your ex-spouse: If both parents agree to the changes, the court will typically sign off. Don't hesitate to discuss your thoughts with your ex, explaining to them why you think a modification makes sense. If you're able to hash out the details, it can save a lot of time and money.
  • By hearing: Despite your best efforts, you may be unable to work things out with your ex. If you're unable to consent to changes, you must go to court to ask for a modification. It's then up to the judge to review your situation and decide what to do next.

Prove a change in circumstances

You'll only request a child custody modification if you have a reason for doing so. The court will typically require you to show some sort of change in circumstances before they take action. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Proof that the other parent is not following the current agreement
  • One parent is moving away from the local area
  • One parent is charged with a crime
  • One parent is under investigation by Child Protective Services
  • The child or children have a new schedule, such as the start of a new school year
  • The custodial parent refuses to let the non-custodial parent visit with their children

If a modification of child custody is something you need to consider, learn more about your legal rights in California and the best way to proceed. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to head to court to figure things out.

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