Court Order Modifications

When dealing with child custody and visitation in divorce proceedings, once a decision has been made in the best interest of the child, the judge in the case will issue a court order detailing the final custody arrangements. And though this court order must be obeyed and adhered to by all parties involved, many things happen that may change the circumstances in relation to the dynamics of the family. When that happens, whether it’s because one parent has landed a new lucrative job, a child wishes to spend more time with another parent, or any other number of reasons, one or both parents can seek modifications to these mandated court orders at any time.

At King Law Firm, we understand that no two situations are the same. We can help walk you through the process of modifying current court orders and make sure that the best interests of both you and your child are being met.

Change in Circumstances

Children’s needs, interests and activities change, as do the lives of the parents, including job relocations, moving, and bringing new people into the child’s life. In order to revise a custody, there must be a significant change in circumstances since the custody order was made. It is a good idea to reexamine a child custody order every two and half to three years so that you are making sure the child remains in a consistent, steady and healthy situation.

Seeking a Custody Modification

There are two ways to go about seeking a change of custody:

  • Parental Agreement: If both parents agree to changes in the custody arrangement, both parents will fill out several forms, including the Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or Visitation of Children (Form FL-355). Once all paperwork has been filled out, it must be reviewed by a family law facilitator or lawyer who will make sure the paperwork is in order. Once a judge has signed the stipulation form, all papers must be filed with the county clerk.
  • Parental Non-Agreement: If both parents do not agree to changes in the custody order, the parent who seeks the change must file the necessary paperwork with the court. Once the forms are filed with the county clerk, a hearing will be set (as well as a date to meet with a mediator). Before the hearing date can commence, the initiating parent must serve the other parent with copies of the forms and then file a proof of service. Once the judge has heard both sides of the case, they will make a decision in the best interest of the child.

Mediation

Before going to the court hearing to decide changes in a custody order, it is recommended (and sometimes mandated) for both parents to meet with a mediator to find out why the initiating parent wants to change the order. Parents will often come to an agreement in mediation, at which point a court hearing will not be necessary. Click to learn more about mediation.

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