When you first get divorced, your child may be young, and the initial custody is decided upon using the facts at that time. But as your child grows, if you (or your ex-spouses) condition changes, there could be many reasons for you to petition the Fresno court to change the custody arrangement.
Under the laws in California (and most states) for you to successfully petition the court for a custody modification, you must essentially demonstrate two things:
- That there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrant a change in the parenting plan or initial custody order.
- It is in the best interests of the child for the court to grant the modification.
You, and your family lawyer, must address the questions of exactly what substantial change has occurred. A substantial change in circumstance usually refers to a substantial and permanent change. It cannot be a temporary condition that may be caused by something that either parent did voluntarily.
Some of the factors the Fresno courts may consider in modifying a custody agreement include:
- Any difficulties, or changes, to the parent that make it difficult to follow the current custody or parenting plan.
- A possible physical or mental health change in one of the parents.
- A significant financial change to either of the parents.
- The parents’ relationship, as ex-spouses, has been altered or is now more negative.
- Any deliberate acts by either parent to prevent the other from spending time with their child.
- The level of involvement has changed for one or both parents in the child’s life.
- The length of time the child has spent with each parent.
- A significant change to the living environment that the parent can provide.
While any one of these factors alone, may not be enough to justify a change or modification of custody, two or more together may be sufficient evidence for the court to grant the change. Also, if you, or your ex-partner, have been in any serious legal trouble, that may instigate a change.
The above are just some examples of what could occur for you to ask the court for a change in custody. The California laws are always in flux, and you should always consult with a Fresno family lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. This is a serious matter and could affect the rest of your child’s life, don’t leave it up to chance.
What Other Factors Could Affect Your Child Custody Arrangement?
Along with outside circumstances that may occur, there may be other factors that could move into the relationships that could alter your custody agreement, such as:
- The wishes of the parents – The courts will always consider the wishes of each parent. Life changes, and you and your ex-spouse may agree that a change is needed for the benefit of your child.
- The wishes of the child, or children – The courts consider the relationship between each parent and each child in a profoundly serious manner. If one parent has been an absentee parent most of the time, then it will be likely that the absentee parent will be awarded visitation rather than custody.
- The parent’s living accommodations & ability to provide for the child – The court will always consider the parents’ ability to provide for the child when deciding custody and child support. The court, first and foremost, looks at the living conditions to determine if you have room for the children, if your home is in a safe neighborhood and if it is clean and well-managed.
- Allegations & instances of abuse or neglect – The court will not only consider any actual incidents of abuse or neglect when it comes to awarding custody, but they may consider simple allegations of neglect or abuse as well. Be careful however, if you have made allegations that turned out to be false, the court will weigh this heavily when deciding how to change and alter custody.
These are only certain examples of how some factors may weigh into the court’s custody decisions. As you see, many factors can come into play, and consulting with a professional Fresno child custody lawyer is the best way for you to plan to help yourself and your child.
What Is a Modification of Custody Order?
Changes may occur anytime by mutual agreement of both parents.
You or your ex-spouse may bring a motion to return to court and request a change in custody and/or visitation if there is a substantial change in circumstances that supports the parent’s claim that a change would be in the children’s best interests.
If a court hears a motion and agrees that there may be a basis for the change, it may require a custody evaluation to be performed. How you, and your lawyer, represent these facts in the custody evaluation can be a critical part of the success or failure of the case.
What Should I Avoid Doing During a Custody Battle?
If you are trying to get your custody agreement modified, you should refrain from doing the following:
- Avoid verbal confrontations with your ex-spouse and/or children.
- Avoid physical confrontation with the ex-spouse and/or children.
- Avoid exposing your child to new partners you may have.
- Avoid criticizing your ex-spouse to legal parties, family, or friends.
- Avoid missing child support payments and agreed-upon family responsibilities.
- Avoid overindulgence in alcohol, and of course all drug use.
- Don’t Lie.
- Don’t cut off the current custody rights of your ex-partner.
Above all, don’t hesitate to ask for help, especially from your family law attorney.
I Believe I Have Grounds to Modify My Child Custody Order; What Should I Do First?
Even if you and your partner have split, your children will always be at the center of your life. Their present and future are still in your hands, and they need you. The Fresno child custody lawyers at Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian are skilled in helping parents like you through the complexity of these cases. Consult with them first, so that you can assure your child’s future health, happiness, and success.