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San Diego Child Custody Modification Lawyers


Modifying a Child Custody Decision in California

Determining child custody can be one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. There are many decisions that must be agreed upon by both parents, and figuring out what is fair for everyone and in the best interests of the child can be extremely contentious. Questions that must be answered include whether the parents will share joint custody, who will make decisions when it comes to medical treatment, education, and vacations, and who is responsible for what share of the costs involved.

After all of the effort that goes into settling on a fair co-parenting arrangement, everyone involved will probably be extremely hesitant to make a change. These agreements are often settled with the help of lawyers and mediators and take many hours of negotiation. Once a judge has signed off on a settlement, he or she will be unwilling to allow any changes without being given compelling reasons for why a new arrangement is necessary.

The state of California has very strict laws over how to mediate child custody issues, and this applies even after the divorce has been finalized. If both parents agree to the changes, it is relatively simple to apply for a new court order. But if they cannot agree, one parent will have no choice but to petition the court for a modification to the custody agreement. It will be up to a judge to decide whether a change is warranted.

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What Changes in Circumstance Warrant a Custody Order Change?

There are many valid reasons for changes to be made to a custody agreement. In fact, every few years, the agreement should be revisited, for as children get older, their lives change. They will attend new schools, become involved in new activities, and require different resources and care.

At the same time, circumstances can change for the parents as well. These changes can include new jobs, new partners, or new homes. The loss of a job can lead to unexpected financial pressures. The court realizes that divorced parents do not lead static lives, and so procedures have been put into place to allow for changes to be made.

When the parents cannot agree on a new arrangement, one parent will have to show that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the current custody order was agreed upon, and that it is in the best interests of the child to establish a new custody and visitation arrangement.

Reasons can include:

  • One of the parents is continually moving
  • One of the parents is showing signs of being emotionally unstable
  • The child is showing signs of abuse
  • One of the parents is failing to make the child available for scheduled visits
  • One of the parents is abusing drugs or alcohol
  • One of the parents has undergone a significant change in financial circumstances

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Filing for an Emergency Change in Custody

In certain cases, it may be necessary to be to ask for an emergency change in custody. If your child is being subjected to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, he or she needs to be immediately removed from danger. Under such circumstances, you should notify the police and file an emergency motion for modified custody. You can apply for such a motion even if the other parent is not the one committing the abuse, but is behaving negligently in a way that allows the abuse to happen.

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Defending a Modification Request

The court will need to see evidence that the modification request is warranted. If the circumstances do not constitute an emergency, then you may need to work with a mediator to come to a mutually agreed-upon settlement with your co-parent, much the same as with the original divorce.

The experienced legal team at Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. will treat a modification to a custody agreement with the same care and seriousness that we do the original divorce proceedings. We will do our utmost to ensure that you continue to have a meaningful and secure environment in which to raise your children. Call us today at (858) 458-9500 to learn how we can help update your child custody arrangement in the quickest manner possible.

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Additional Information

(858) 458-9500

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C.
11455 El Camino Real, Suite 390
San Diego, California 92130
Office: (858) 458-9500
Fax: (858) 630-2341
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Our Firm Services The Following California Areas:
San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach.

Certified family law specialist by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization.

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. is a San Diego, California firm practicing exclusively in the area of domestic relations law. We handle a wide range of matters including divorce, child custody, and child support. Whatever your situation we can be of assistance. Feel free to contact us today.

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