Reasons A Judge Will Change Custody California

Judges work hard to ensure that custody determinations they create or approve truly serve a child’s best interests. For that reason, you usually need to show that circumstances have altered in some way if you want the court to change an existing custody arrangement in California. In some cases, however, an amendment in custody can be justified even if there is not a change in circumstances when you can demonstrate that a custody arrangement was based on incorrect assumptions or that it simply is not serving a child’s best needs.

It is important to remember that focus on custody decisions is on what is best for the child, but a skilled attorney can often show how a parent’s goals align with the child’s needs. Judges can amend custody in California for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the most common.

The Child’s Needs Have Changed

A custody arrangement that met the child’s needs at one point in time may be much less effective at meeting those needs as the child matures. If a child has special educational needs, for instance, one parent might have time or training to help address those needs, or one parent might live near a school with a special program that can keep the child’s educational progress on track.

Changes in the needs of the child might involve medical issues that one parent is better equipped to cope with. Or if the existing custody plan puts the child with one parent the majority of the time, the child may need a plan that allows more time with the other parent. Every child has unique needs, and people’s needs tend to change over time, so it is not surprising that changes in a child’s needs could necessitate an alteration in custody plans.

A Parent’s Ability to Provide Care Has Changed

Different work schedules and changes in job responsibilities can cut into the time one parent may have available to provide care, so this is frequently a reason judges approve a change in custody. A parent’s ability to serve as a responsible caregiver may also have been negatively impacted in some way. Sadly, mental illness or substance abuse could render a parent unable to provide appropriate care and supervision. When there is evidence that a parent has abused or neglected a child, custody can be changed very quickly, at least on a temporary basis.

One Parent Wants to Relocate

When a parent wants to move to another state or a different region of California, that impacts the child’s life substantially. It can become nearly impossible to continue with an existing custody arrangement. The court cannot prevent a parent from relocating, but a judge can stop the parent from moving the child out of an environment that they are comfortable with if the judge finds that the child’s best interests would be best served by keeping the child in that environment in the sole custody of the other parent.

Relocation is one of the most common reasons courts are asked to change custody.

Parental Alienation

If a parent is trying to damage or destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent, this is known as parental alienation. When there is evidence that a parent is engaging in these tactics, courts can change custody arrangements to preserve the child’s relationship with the other parent. Sometimes, allegations of alienation turn out to be unfounded, and efforts taken to remedy the problem have been out of proportion and potentially harmful to the child. Parental alienation remains a controversial issue.

Both Parents Ask the Court for Changes

Quite often, parents develop a new plan for custody that they believe best serves their needs. It is necessary to receive court approval before changing custody arrangements, so it is a good idea to have an attorney review the plan to ensure that it meets legal requirements and is likely to meet with approval. If parents want to make changes but they are having difficulty negotiating arrangements on their own, an attorney can serve as a mediator or each parent could engage an attorney to negotiate on their behalf.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Can Help You Develop the Right Custody Arrangements

Whether you are establishing custody plans for the first time or want to modify plans that have been in place for a while, guidance and assistance from an experienced attorney can make the process smoother and enable you to achieve the results that work best for your child and for you. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our Certified Family Law Specialists and associates know a variety of strategies to help you meet your goals for custody. Contact our team today to learn more about the ways we can help.  

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