Custody Lawyers: Can I Modify My Custody Arrangement Without Going to Court?

custody lawyersAlthough a custody arrangement can theoretically be modified without going through the California court system, it is advisable that you proceed through the courts after contacting experienced Fresno custody lawyers.

It is important to understand that when a California family law judge first enters an order for child custody, the order is legally binding in the State of California – unless, of course, the Court subsequently approves a modification.

It goes without saying that the parties’ circumstances oftentimes change at some point after the court enters its initial child custody order. However, when these changes occur, it is still advisable that you go through the court system and allow a California court to modify its existing child custody order.

Reaching a New Custody Arrangement Without the Court

It is theoretically possible to reach a new custody arrangement with an ex-spouse without going through the California court system. However, there are some potential pitfalls associated with proceeding in this manner. The most serious pitfall is that the Court can only enforce the original child support order and not any order unilaterally agreed to by yourself and your ex-spouse. Therefore, if your ex later decides not to follow through with your modified custody arrangement, you, unfortunately, have no legal basis to enforce it.

The other problem with an informal modified custody arrangement is that your ex-spouse may begin to overstep the line and ask for more and more favors, such as an extra weekend of visitation, for example. When an ex-spouse begins to do this all the time, you will not have a legal leg to stand on, so to speak.

Reaching a New Custody Arrangement With the Court’s Blessing

When attempting to modify a child custody arrangement, it is almost always preferable to proceed through the California court system and utilizing the services of custody lawyers. Proceeding in this manner will allow you to safeguard all of your legal rights.

California courts will allow for modified custody arrangements based upon a material (or significant) change in one or both of the parties’ circumstances. In order to obtain a custody modification through the California court system, you must first file a Petition for Custody Modification with the Court. The petition must allege that a material change in circumstances has occurred.

In the child custody context, material changes in circumstance may consist of one or more of the following:

  • Geographical relocation of one of the parents
  • The non-custodial parent moving closer to the custodial parent
  • The wishes of the child (assuming the child is old enough to voice those wishes)
  • The custodial parent becoming abusive towards, or neglectful of, the parties’ child or children
  • Changes in the non-custodial parent’s work schedule

Contact a Fresno Custody Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

Custody is one of the most complex areas of a California family law case. An experienced family law attorney can help you to obtain a valid custody modification under California law. Contact Fresno custody lawyers at Rick Banks Law by calling 559-222-4891 for a free initial consultation.

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