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When is it time to file for child custody modification?

Child custody may be one the most important issues to negotiate when creating a divorce decree. Whether you decide to negotiate the terms of the settlement through mediation or you allow a traditional courtroom judge to make the final decision, it is critical to consider the needs and best interests of the children involved in the case. The judge will often consider several factors before determining what type of custody would benefit the family, as well as who will act as the custodial and non-custodial parent. 

Once the judge has finalized the decision in the settlement, it is not set in stone. The court may modify the child custody arrangement to fit the parents’ changing lifestyle. Certain events may arise in life that affect a parent’s ability to fulfill their duties in the current sole-custody or joint-custody arrangement. It is at these times that a parent may file for modification of the child support order. 

According to California state statutes, a parent may file for child support modification in any of the following change in circumstances occurs: 

  • A parent has moved a significant distance away from the child, affecting his or her ability to maintain the current parenting schedule 
  • A parent is incarcerated for a crime  
  • A parent loses his or her job and can no longer maintain the current parenting responsibilities 

A parent can file for child custody modification two to three years after the decree is finalized. If both parents agree on the change, the parent requesting the change must fill out the proper paperwork. If the parents are not in agreement, a mediator may help to facilitate the decision. 



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