Petaluma Child Custody and Support Modification Attorney
After divorce, families experience a great deal of change, both in the short term and the long term. To account for changing circumstances and new lifestyles, California law allows for custody, visitation, and child support orders to be modified. Modification is a valuable tool for parents who find that their existing arrangements no longer benefit them and their children.
While modification may be necessary, it is difficult to navigate the process of amending or terminating existing court orders. To do so in Petaluma, CA, parents must take care in submitting the proper paperwork and presenting their reasons for modification to the court. One misstep can result in a denial of the changes. At Wine Country Family Law, P.C., we work alongside parents to better prepare for the modification of court orders, helping ensure that their changes are honored and their rights are upheld in the process. To speak with an experienced custody and support modification attorney, consider contacting our office at (707) 669-0841 today.
How Does the Modification Process Work in California?
Section 3087 of the California Family Code grants parents the ability to modify or terminate their existing custody, visitation, and support arrangements in light of new circumstances. The law states that to initiate a modification of the agreement, the parent who is seeking the change must file a petition with the court. If both parents agree, and the modification is in the best interests of the child or children, then the changes are likely to be approved by the court. If one parent opposes the change, however, then a decision is made at the court’s discretion.
When completing the appropriate paperwork, the parent seeking the modification will be asked to explain how the changes are in the best interest of the children. While the answer to this question is subjective, the courts will be looking for a demonstrated change in circumstances that necessitate a modification of the existing orders. This change of circumstances can result from any number of reasons.
After all the necessary paperwork is completed and reviewed for accuracy (a custody and support modification attorney at Wine Country Family Law, P.C. can help with this), these documents will be filed with the court clerk in Petaluma. The clerk will likely provide you with a court or mediation date. Then, you will serve your papers to the other parent, file a proof of service, and wait for the court or mediation date.
Reasons for Seeking Modification
In Petaluma and throughout California, the courts aim to preserve the wellbeing of children following a divorce or separation. All initial custody, visitation, and support orders are made with the children’s health, education, and welfare in mind. If one parent can demonstrate that a modification of these orders will improve their health, education, or welfare, then there is a compelling reason for the court to grant the change.
There are many reasons why a parent may seek modification of custody, visitation, or support orders, including:
- Change in work schedule or employment
- Preference of the child or children
- The other parent is unfit or irresponsible in caring for the children
- One parent refuses to follow the existing orders
- Military deployment of a parent
- A change in the child or children’s lifestyle and activities
While the circumstances vary from family to family, if a parent can prove that life has changed in such a way that the existing orders no longer benefit the children, then they may have a compelling reason.
Frequently Asked Questions
As experienced custody and support modification attorneys, we have spent years navigating modification cases in Petaluma, CA. Time, and time again, parents come to us with questions regarding how to change their custody and support orders to adjust to new life circumstances. Some of the most common questions that we receive include:
What Should I Do If I Am Served with Papers in a Modification Case?
If you are served with papers (Request for Order) regarding the modification of existing court orders, it is essential to read the papers thoroughly and completely. Are there any issues that require your immediate attention, such as temporary restraining orders? If so, ensure that you fully understand the implications of these orders.
After reviewing the Request for Order, it is important to calculate the window of time that you have to respond. Your ex-spouse is required to serve you with papers at least 16 days before a court hearing. In emergency situations, an Ex Parte Request for Orders can be requested when there is not enough time for a standard motion. If you wish to have input in the final decision, or submit documentation to the court, it is important to do so before your court date. A custody and support modification attorney can help you review and respond to papers in a modification case.
Can I Request a Modification Due to Relocation?
If you have sole physical custody of your children, there is likely no need to modify your existing agreement. Generally, a parent who has a permanent order for sole physical custody can move away with the children unless the other parent can show that the move would harm the children.
For parents who have a joint custody agreement in place, relocation is a bit more complicated. Before either parent is allowed to change the residency of their children – especially if a parent is relocating to a new city, state, or country – a modification of custody and visitation orders may be necessary. In California, a move-away order is used to approve the relocation of a parent. Failure to obtain a move-away order can have serious legal consequences, making it important to fully understand how relocation impacts your existing custody and visitation agreement.
Petaluma, CA Custody and Support Modification Attorneys Are Here to Help
Successfully modifying existing court orders is no easy task. More and more families are seeking the guidance of knowledgeable custody and support modification attorneys to help navigate the process. As a premier family law firm in Petaluma, CA, Wine Country Family Law, P.C. can help modify your court orders and ensure that legal measures are put in place to better serve your family. For more information regarding how we can help, do not hesitate to contact us today at (707) 669-0841.