Settling child custody during divorce can be one of the most challenging, emotionally charged issues the parties can face. After all, each parent usually has a way they think their child should be raised, and those ideas aren't always compatible with one another. This can lead to heated child custody and visitation arguments that are difficult, although not impossible, to settle through negotiations. Yet, regardless of whether the matter is resolved through negotiations or litigation, the resolution often isn't permanent.
In fact, in California, parents can seek a child custody modification at any time. However, in order to have a chance to succeed on a modification request, a parent must show that there has been a change in circumstances that warrant the modification. The modification, which is justified by this significant change, must further the best interests of the child. The court will typically look to see if the modification is necessary to ensure the child has a safe and stable home.
So what could qualify as a change in circumstances? It varies from case-to-case, but it is important to analyze how the change affects the child's best interests. For example, a parent who is found to be abusing drugs or engaging in domestic violence may place the child in danger of abuse or neglect, thereby requiring a custody modification. Modification of parenting time may also be justified if the current arrangement is causing therapeutic damage to the child.
Most petitions for custody modification are met with pushback, meaning that the other parent is going to everything he or she can to prevent the change. Therefore, in order to succeed, an individual needs to ensure that he or she has strong facts and legal arguments to support his or her position. The same holds true for those who are opposing a modification. For this reason, many Californians find it helpful to have a strong legal advocate on their side.