When a California family court judge issued a final decree in your divorce, it may have included terms of agreement regarding your children. At that time, you and your former spouse became obligated to adhere to those terms, unless and until the judge might see fit to change (or modify) them. This sometimes happens if one or the other parent files a petition seeking child custody modification.
Child support is a subcategory of child custody proceedings. Modification might be relevant to various issues, such as child support payments, legal custody (authority to make decisions on children’s behalf) or physical custody (pertaining to who your children live with). If you request a change in the court’s orders, you must be prepared to show “just cause,” meaning that you demonstrate a legitimate reason for making the request.
The court does not take child custody decisions lightly
When a judge issues a final ruling regarding child custody in a divorce, children’s best interests are the central focus. The court takes numerous factors into consideration and issues a ruling with confidence that the terms in place are best for the children in question. If you are going to ask the court to modify the agreement, you must convince the judge that what you are requesting is necessary and is in your children’s best interests.
Examples of legitimate reasons for requesting child custody modification
The following list includes several examples of reasons the court might consider modifying the terms of agreement in a child custody or child support order:
- You are relocating for employment reasons and your current shared custody or visitation schedule will no longer be feasible due to the distance between households.
- You have been paying child support but lost your job or incurred a reduction in income.
- A remarriage has taken place and you now have stepchildren who depend on you financially, which has made it difficult or impossible for you to meet your current child support payments.
- You are the custodial parent, and your children’s financial needs have increased.
- You have reason to believe that your ex is abusive or has developed a substance abuse problem, and your children are at risk when they are with him or her.
This list is not exclusive, meaning there are many other reasons why a California family court judge might rule in favor of a parent who has requested child custody modification. If you are experiencing one of the issues on this list, however, you might consider asking the judge to modify your terms of agreement.
What if a modification request sparks a legal dispute?
If you and your ex disagree about a request for child custody modification, you might be in for a legal battle. In such a case, it is wise to speak with someone who can help you build a strong case that may win the court’s favor.