Families change over time. When they do, changes often need to be made to parenting time and visitation agreements. Fortunately, California parenting time and visitation agreements are modifiable to adapt to the ever-evolving needs of children and their parents.
If you are considering a modification in your parenting time and visitation agreement, the following is a brief explanation of the modification process in California. Before moving forward with any court process on your own, consult with an experienced San Francisco family law attorney in your area to learn how California’s child custody laws apply to your circumstances.
When Can a California Parenting Time and Visitation Order Be Changed?
There are numerous reasons for a modification of parenting time and visitation orders. Parents may move, change jobs, or remarry. Children may take on new school activities and interests or want to spend more time with the other parent as they age.
Generally, parents renegotiate portions of their parenting time agreements every 2 ½ to 3 years. If they are able to agree on the changes, parents may do so by preparing an agreement and submitting it to the court. Parents who cannot agree must file for a modification with the court.
Before any court hearing, it is typical for parents to meet with a mediator to discuss any proposed modifications. The requesting parent must prove there has been a significant “change in circumstances” since the final custody order was made. This change in circumstances requires a new parenting time and visitation arrangement for the best interest of the children.
The reasoning behind requiring a “significant change in circumstances” is to maintain stability and consistency in child custody arrangements. Final custody orders should remain in place unless a change is in the best interest of the children.
There is a specific process to follow when asking the court for a parenting time and visitation modification hearing. In its simplest form, this process requires:
- Filling out the court forms and including a proposed custody and visitation arrangement;
- Having the papers reviewed by a professional for accuracy and to ensure they are complete;
- Making copies of the forms;
- Filing the forms with the court clerk;
- Getting a court and/or mediation date;
- Serving the papers on your co-parent;
- Filing the proof of service; and
- Attending any mediation and court hearing.
Some parents have to attend an orientation. Parents should speak with the court clerk to find out if this is mandatory in their case.
If parents can reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will most likely help to write an agreement to present for the judge’s signature. Parents who cannot resolve their disagreement will go before the judge for a ruling and final order. Usually, a parent’s attorney prepares the final order for the judge’s signature.
Contact an Experienced California Child Custody Attorney
If you have questions or concerns about modifying your parenting time and visitation agreement or were served with modification papers, contact the San Francisco child custody attorneys at Moradi Saslaw. We know how important your children are to you and want to help guide you through your custody modification.
Meet with one of our child custody professionals at your earliest convenience. Your consultation is completely confidential.