Long after the original child custody and support orders are issued in a case, the circumstances might substantially change and require a modification. If your circumstances have changed since you received your initial custody order, the court can modify it at any time until your child reaches age 18. Parents can also agree to modify their child custody and support orders and file updated parenting plans with the court to modify them. However, it is also possible for one parent to file a motion to modify existing child support and child custody orders with the court even though the other parent disagrees with the proposed changes.
Before a judge agrees to modify a child support or custody order, they must first find that the circumstances have changed substantially. The court will also need to find that the change in circumstances affects the child's welfare and that modifying the orders is in the child's best interests. At the Law Offices of Christopher L. Hoglin, PC, we help parents who need to adjust their existing child support or child custody orders to reflect the changes in their lives. Here is some information about child support and child custody modifications and what to expect.
Parenting Plan Assessment
A parenting plan assessment or PPA will be required in California child custody cases if the court appoints a family court services specialist to assess children and both parents. After a family court services specialist interviews the children and parents, they will file a report about any observed or discussed issues.
The court will order a one-day parenting plan assessment if it determines that it needs some issues investigated before the judge can issue a decision. In this type of PPA, the interviews and testimony will occur on the same day. A two-day parenting assessment happens when there are several issues about which the judge needs more information before issuing a decision. In this type of PPA, the family court services specialist will interview the children and both parents on one day and give testimony the following day.
Common Reasons for Modification
There are several common reasons why a parent might want to modify a child support order, child custody order, or both. We'll discuss several of these reasons below.
Modifying Child Support - Changed Financial Circumstances
In some cases, a parent who is ordered to pay child support will undergo changes in their financial circumstances, making it difficult to continue paying the child support amount they are ordered to pay. For example, if a parent loses their job through no fault of their own, the parent might file a motion to modify child support. Before a court agrees to modify a child support order, it must first find substantial changes.
The parent who receives child support can also file a motion to modify child support when the paying parent's income substantially increases. After taking both parents' income and expenses into account, the court might modify a child support order if it would result in a change of 20% or $50 or more.
Wanting to Move
In some cases, a custodial parent will want to move out of state or to a distant city with the child. However, a judge will not automatically consider a request to relocate as a reason to modify child custody, so wanting to move is not a guarantee that a modification will be approved.
Parent Refuses to Follow a Custody Order
In some cases, one parent will not follow the custody orders that have been issued. For example, the parent might refuse to allow the child to go for parenting time with the other parent, fail to bring the child back on time, or refuse to tell the other parent when they take trips with the child out of state. In these situations, the court may modify the child custody order and give the other parent more time with the child.
Parent Has Substance Abuse Issues
If one parent develops drug or alcohol issues, the current custody order might no longer be appropriate. Children need to be safe when they are with either parent. A court might modify a custody order to restrict the parenting time of a parent with substance abuse problems or limit to supervised visits.
Simply wanting to move to a new place is not enough to get a court to agree to modify a child custody plan. For example, suppose you want to move with your child to a different state or a new city to pursue a romantic relationship with someone you met on a dating site. In that case, the court is unlikely to grant your request when the move will interfere with the other parent's parenting time and the child's school and relationships in the community. However, if you want to relocate for a new job that will improve your child's circumstances and your ability to support them, the court might be likelier to grant your modification request and allow you to relocate with your child.
Before you can move with your child, you must first provide written notice of your intent to do so to the other parent. They will then have the opportunity to object to your proposed move. If they don't agree to your move, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether it is in your child's best interests to grant your relocation request. If the court denies it, you can still move. However, you will not be able to take your child with you.
If you believe you have a reason to modify your child support or custody agreement, contact our Pasadena modification lawyers today at (626) 653-4075.