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When a child custody order may be modified

When California parents first separate, the court may finalize a custody arrangement that benefits the child. Over time, however, the child custody arrangement may no longer work, especially if one parent wants to move or remarry. Although the court generally will not alter a child custody arrangement, there are very specific cases where a modification may be granted.

A court may consider a child custody modification if there is evidence that the child is in immediate danger if they remain in their current household. For example, if the noncustodial parent has evidence of domestic violence occurring in the other home or that the other parent can suddenly no longer provide proper care for the child, the custody order could be modified. Furthermore, the arrangement may also be modified if the other parent refuses to cooperate with the visitation schedule and continuously withholds the child from the other parent.

The child custody arrangement may also be modified if a parent is moving far enough away. Before any modifications are made, the court will look at whether the two parents have attempted to come to agreements on reworking the visitation schedule and how the child's school and social life could be interrupted.

If one parent makes it difficult for the other to maintain a relationship with their child by failing to follow the parenting plan, a family law attorney may assist by seeking enforcement of the child custody agreement. In some cases, the attorney may argue that the withholding of the child from the parent could be considered harmful to the child. They may potentially initiate a request for a modification of the support order so that the parent can have a normal, healthy relationship with their child.

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