When you divorced your spouse, you also negotiated a custody agreement with your spouse. Then, a judge reviewed the agreement and issued a custody order. Now that you have some co-parenting experience, you may have realized the agreement is not quite right.
Your existing custody order is essentially a snapshot in time. That is, the legally binding agreement reflects what was in the best interests of your children at the time the judge approved it. If circumstances have changed, you may need to ask a court to rework your custody order.
Common post-divorce changes in circumstances
Even if you put considerable thought into drafting your custody agreement, you simply could not predict the future. Changes to any of the following may require updating the agreement:
- Either parent’s income
- Either parent’s home location
- Either parent’s involvement with the children
- The children’s health
- The children’s educational needs
While these are common life changes parents often experience after a divorce, there may be other reasons to revisit your custody agreement. Simply put, if the agreement is no longer meeting the needs of your children, it is probably time to modify it.
The modification process
Before asking a court to modify your existing child custody order, you must be certain the change in circumstances is significant. Stated differently, if the change is only minor, a judge is not likely to modify the agreement.
Then, you must show any proposed change to the custody agreement is in the best interests of your child. This is the legal standard judges in California must follow when making custody-related decisions.
Ultimately, if you can prove a substantial change in circumstances requires modifying your current custody agreement to meet the best needs of your children, a judge is apt to rework the order.