Child Custody Modification

January 31, 2024 | By Doppelt and Forney
Child Custody Modification

When you get divorced, a lot of work may be involved in establishing a feasible child custody plan. Yet, despite the time and effort invested, just a few years after a new family routine has been established, it is not uncommon for the parents—and even the children—to realize that the existing order no longer meets their needs.

If your current child custody arrangement needs to be adjusted, the San Diego child custody modification lawyers at Doppelt and Forney, APLC can assist you. We serve people who need a knowledgeable child custody attorney to assist them with a variety of complex matters.

Situations When Modifying an Order May be Appropriate

The realities of life often demonstrate that even the best-laid plans do not always work out in accordance with the way that your life progresses. This is no less true of child custody orders. What seemed like a workable plan on paper may turn out to be unworkable in reality, particularly since single-parenthood frequently presents unanticipated challenges that did not have as great an impact on your schedule when you were married.

Also, things change. As children get older, their needs, wants, and activities will shift and develop in new areas. You also are getting older, and you may change jobs, lose a job, get a promotion, form a new relationship, relocate, encounter financial challenges, and so on. Your ex-spouse’s life is also probably changing. Often, all of these separate developments do not coincide with a child custody plan that may have been established many years ago.

Pursuing a Modification

A modification of child custody is quite common, and there are two ways to achieve it: by mutual consent or by a court order.

When possible, the most efficient method of modifying a child custody order is by the mutual agreement of the parents. When the parents are willing to work together and are focused on what is best for their children, they may often work out the changes that they need to make that will suit the needs of their children and them. In addition, when the parents have significant input into their own plan by negotiating a solution together, they are more likely to adhere to the resulting plan and to make it work.

However, even when the parents craft their own modification in San Diego or beyond, a child custody modification attorney should be involved. The new plan must carefully spell out the terms of the agreement in detail, without ambiguities or gaps. After the agreement has been drafted and signed by both parties, it must be submitted to the court. In most cases, when the parents mutually consent, courts are willing to approve the new plan and issue it as a new order, superseding the previous orders.

When the parents are unable to negotiate a modification on their own, the spouse who wants a modification will need to petition the court for a modification called a Request for Order.

Procedurally, it is similar to other civil proceedings. The moving party fills out forms stating the reason for the modification, files the motion with the appropriate court, serves the papers on the other party, and sets the court proceedings in motion, including engaging in mandatory mediation.

In contrast to a situation involving a mutual agreement, a court may not modify an existing custody order if only one parent wants a modification. The moving party will need to show that a modification is warranted based on a substantial change in circumstances that makes the existing order not in the best interests of the child or children—rather than merely inconvenient or difficult. At the center of the court’s inquiry will be the question of what is in the best interests of the child. The purpose is to maintain stability and consistency in the child’s life without an undue disruption.

Contact a San Diego Child Custody Modification Attorney

If you need to modify an existing child custody order, or if you need advice on negotiating or drafting a modification, contact Doppelt and Forney, APLC at 800.769.4748 or use our online form to set up a free in-person or virtual consultation with a divorce attorney.

We can assist parents seeking a child custody modification lawyer throughout the San Diego area, including in Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista.