When A Change In Circumstances Calls For A Change In Custody

If you experience a significant life change, you may need to seek a child custody modification to your original custody order. There are many reasons to request a modification, such as relocation or lack of cooperation from your spouse.

At Rombro & Manley LLP, our child custody attorneys, Melinda A. Manley and S. Roger Rombro, can help parents in Manhattan Beach, California, make legal alterations to their custody agreements. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team can assist you with mediation or legal representation in court, depending on your needs.

Significant Life Changes

While there are many reasons to seek a modification to your custody agreement, you must be able to prove that a significant change has occurred in your life to warrant the alteration. The court will assess your case and determine whether the change is in the best interest of your child. The court may grant your modification if:

  • Either parent is physically relocating
  • A career change impacts the current order
  • One parent refuses to follow the agreed-upon arrangement
  • There is a danger to the health or well-being of the child

Once a child reaches the age of 14, they may be able to express their preference to the court. In these cases, the judge may interview the child, or uncover the child's wishes through various other procedures, and assess what is in in the best interest of the child.

We offer many types of custody services and can support you during an alternative dispute resolution session, such as mediation, or provide legal representation in court.

How To Change A Custody Order

Making alterations to an existing custody order can be a complex process. If both parents agree to the change, they may file an agreement with the court, which a judge can sign and make an official court order. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, you will have to attend mediation or a hearing, so a judge can determine the best course of action. The steps for changing an existing custody order in California are:

  1. Fill out a Request for Order form. In the paperwork, it is important to explain why you think the change is necessary. You can also attach a new parenting plan or custody arrangement proposal for the judge's consideration.
  2. Have your forms reviewed. Before you file your paperwork, have one of our qualified child custody attorneys review your forms to ensure everything is filled out correctly.
  3. Make at least two copies of all your forms.
  4. File your forms with the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original forms and return the two copies, marked "conformed."
  5. The court clerk will schedule a mediation appointment or hearing date.
  6. Serve papers on the other parent. Another person must deliver the papers to your co-parent along with a blank Responsive Declaration to Request for Order. The particulars of your case will determine if you need to serve additional forms or meet a certain deadline. Our team can help ensure that you follow all court requirements.
  7. File a Proof of Personal Service. This form must be filled out correctly by the individual who served the papers.
  8. Go to all required meetings. You will have mediation before your court date. If you and the other parent are unable to reach a decision during mediation, you will need to attend a hearing before a judge.

Once a decision is reached by you and your co-parent or by the court, the judge will sign a new custody order. Often, it is the responsibility of the individual who requested the hearing to prepare the order for the judge's signature. Your lawyer can prepare the order on your behalf.

The Support You Need

The modification process may seem overwhelming. However, our team of family law attorneys can help you every step of the way. If you are planning to seek a modification to your custody order, call our office at 310-545-1900 or contact us online to schedule an initial case consultation today.