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Obtaining a child custody modification in California

The requirements that must be met for a child custody modification to be approved by the Court differ by state. In California, if both parents agree, a modification can be accomplished by a simple agreement signed by both parties and submitted to a judge for approval. However, sometimes custody disputes can become difficult and even deadlocked arguments where neither parent is interested in a compromise. In these cases, there is a burden of proof placed on the party requesting modification to show that a change would be in the best interest of the child.

A change in physical custody of a child can only be granted when there has been a significant change in circumstances since the final order was made. That change must provide stability and consistency for the child, as well as be in their best interest in general. One example of this would be if the primary custodial party began working a job that required frequent travel. This circumstance would require that the child be left with caregivers often, as well as possibly change schools, which may not be in the child's best interest. In such a case, the court could find that a custody modification is appropriate.

As mentioned above, custody disputes can often cause tempers to flare between parents, which could result in decisions derived out of anger instead of sensibility. For example, if one parent does not personally approve of the custodial parent's new significant other, but the new spouse has recently moved into the home where your child resides. If there have been no significant changes that would affect the child's well-being, the petitioning parent may not be successful in having a modification granted because the root of the petition rests on personal feelings, not necessarily the interests of the child.

For these reasons and many others, a family law attorney may be able to act as a voice of reason in these situations and can provide counsel on whether to file for a custody modification with your particular circumstances.

Source:, "Changing a Custody Order," accessed Oct. 20, 2017

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