Los Angeles Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Working with Parents Involved in Disputes Related to Existing Child Custody Orders
Child custody is often the most contentious aspect of a divorce. When a couple that has been raising a child together decides to end their marriage and live separately, it makes it impossible for them to continue parenting as they were. The law recognizes that both parents have rights and responsibilities with respect to their children, however, so an arrangement needs to be made that allows both parents to exercise those rights as long as it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
The State of California recognizes two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the decision-making power of each parent, and physical custody has to do with where the child or children will live. Either type of custody can be joint (i.e. shared) or sole. When one parent has sole physical custody of a child, the other parent will normally be permitted reasonable visitation rights.
When parents can agree upon child custody arrangements, their agreements are normally memorialized into a binding Child Custody and Visitation Order, which, once signed by a judge, becomes a legally enforceable court order. If parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation arrangements, a California family court judge will make the decision based upon the best interests of the child or children involved.
As children grow older, their needs and interests oftentimes change, and child custody and visitation arrangements may need to be modified. If you are seeking a modification of an existing Child Custody and Visitation Order, an experienced Los Angeles child custody modification attorney at our law firm are here to help.
Bases for Child Custody and Visitation Modifications
The basis for modifying an existing Child Custody and Visitation Order is whether or not a ‘material change in circumstances’ has occurred.
If the parties can agree upon the child custody and visitation modifications, they are free to enter into a stipulation which is then signed by a family court judge. This stipulation essentially becomes the new, legally enforceable Child Custody and Visitation Order.
However, if the parties cannot agree on how to modify the existing child custody and visitation arrangements, the court will decide. In reaching a decision about ‘material changes in circumstance,’ family court judges consider the following non-exclusive list of factors:
- Changes in the parents’ work schedules
- Changes in the parents’ physical addresses
- The preference of the child (if the child is old enough to voice a preference)
- Criminal conviction or incarceration of one of the parents
- A parent’s desire to move out-of-state or somewhere else far away from that parent’s current address
- Irresponsibility of one parent (including financial irresponsibility, drug or substance abuse issues, new relationships, etc.)
If the parents cannot agree on how to modify an existing Child Custody and Visitation Order, one of the parents must ordinarily file a Motion to Modify with the appropriate California family court.
It is important to understand that judges have significant discretion when deciding whether to modify an existing child custody order. For this reason, it is important to retain legal counsel if you are involved in a dispute regarding an existing order, whether you are the party trying to modify the order tor the party opposed to the modification. Some of the ways that a lawyer can help include the following:
- Evaluate your case and determine whether circumstances have changed enough to seek an order
- Gather evidence in support of your position
- Attempt to negotiate a settlement of the matter with your child’s other parent out of court
- Communicate with your child’s other parent or his or her attorney on your behalf
- Represent you in court and present evidence in support of your position
- File an appeal should you obtain an adverse outcome
Contact a Los Angeles Child Custody Modification Attorney
The needs of families and children inevitably change over time, and child custody and visitation modifications are oftentimes necessary and appropriate for a variety of reasons.
Our experienced Los Angeles child custody modification attorneys will be able to speak with you about your family’s circumstances, review all of the facts and circumstances of your case with you, and assist you with taking the necessary legal actions to modify an existing Child Custody and Visitation Order.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles child custody modification attorney, call the law office of Furman & Zavatsky today at 818-528-3471