• modify child custody in california

Modify Child Custody in California

Certain circumstances arise post-divorce that require parents to change their California child custody and visitation agreement. As a parent, if you have experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as a job loss, and you need your child custody order to be modified, contact us for more information. Read on to learn more about how to modify child custody in California.

How to Change a Custody Agreement

In order to modify child custody in California, a parent must request a court hearing, unless the other parent voluntarily agrees to the change of the current arrangement. The parent seeking the change will need to complete Form FL 300. The parent will need to prepare a plan detailing scheduled visits including holidays and other details that best fits the new parenting plan. The parent will need to explain why he/she thinks it is necessary to change the existing custody order. This is the most important aspect of the change in custody or visitation request. Often verbal testimony at the court hearing is limited. As a result, the judge relies heavily on the written paperwork when considering the matter. The parent will also need to attach his/her proposed parenting plan if he/she seeks for it to become a part of the court order.

Once the parent completes the paperwork, he/she will need to make 2 copies of the form, file the forms with the clerk, get a court date, serve the papers on the other parent, file the proof of service, and attend the court hearing. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to modify child custody in California.  Learn how we can help you prepare the motion for change of custody paperwork including a comprehensive declaration explaining your reasons for the change to your current arrangement.

Reasons to Modify Child Custody in California

Child custody orders can be modified at any time. Common reasons to change a child custody order include the following:

  • The non-custodial parent needs to relocate due to employment or personal affairs
  • The non-custodial parent has placed the child in a dangerous environment
  • A parent’s religious practices are hurting the child
  • The custodial parent is denying the non-custodial parent rightful contact
  • The parent is failing to properly care for the child such as making sure they arrive to school on time and attend medical and dental appointments as scheduled

Legal Grounds for Child Custody Modification

A parent seeking to change his/her child custody order must have legal grounds to do so. Asking for a change in a child custody and visitation order require the following:

The parent seeking the child custody modification must show that there has been a “change in circumstances” since the final custody order was made.

A “change in circumstances” means that there has been a significant change that requires a modification to the child custody and visitation agreement for the best interest of the child.

Hence, existing child custody orders should only be modified if it is in the best interest of the child.

When A Child’s Preference Influences Child Custody Modification

Child custody orders are based on what is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider the child’s preference as one part in making its final determination. The court will take into consideration the child’s age, maturity, intelligence, and motivations when determining the weight given to the preferences by the court. The court typically will not allow a youth under 12-years of age to disclose their preference.

Benefits of Using A Non-Attorney to Modify Custody in California

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to hire an attorney to modify child custody order in California. At A People’s Choice, we have helped thousands of custodial and non-custodial parents complete all the necessary legal documents to modify child custody in California and file their motion for a custody change. As legal document preparers, we have extensive experience helping people formulate their “story” for the court to consider. In addition, we know what to look out for and the documentation to file when preparing child custody modification forms. Our turnaround time in completing the required forms is typically faster than most lawyers as well and you will save thousands of dollars in the process! Contact us for more information.

Get help with your California legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


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By |2018-01-18T15:47:24-07:00September 1st, 2015|Family Law|20 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. nikki December 29, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    hi, I have full legal custody and shared physical custody of my two boys. I moved out of the county our custody order is in and now their dad is in jail facing four felonies including but not limited too dui and child abuse. I am now being instructed by cps to modify my custody order so I have sole custody all around so I’m trying to figure out how todo this from a different county. I have no car so no way to get to the county our order is in. what are my options at this point? can I have one of my family members like my mother file the paperwork down there on my behalf so I only have to worry about getting there for the hearing?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      We can certainly help you prepare the necessary documents to get your hearing on Calendar. I would not recommend trying to do this without some professional assistance. We will also file the documents with the court and get the hearing set. Please give us a call at 800-747-2780 for help.

  2. Momof1 December 16, 2018 at 7:24 am


    Since birth I have been the provider for my child. The father is listed on the birth certificate. However, we are un-married. Also, my child father abandoned him. What forms do I need to file in court to request Sole Custody ?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

      You would need to establish paternity and then get a custody order. We can help you with that process. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

  3. Nancy Sanchez December 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Hello. My fiancé is currently going through problems with his sons mom about their court order. He has been trying to pick up his son every day at 6 pm (which is his time to pick him up) and his mother doesn’t let him. She said that they can go back to court and until they do she will keep their son from my fiancé. My fiancé wants to take her back to court and try to get full sole custody. He has proof of her admitted to buying drugs as a minor, smoking around their son even though he has asthma, and committing welfare fraud just to get my fiancé to pay child support. We are trying to look for a fathers rights lawyer but so far, we had no luck. Is there anyway you could be able to help us?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 6, 2018 at 7:56 am

      Yes absolutely we can help. People use our office to get professional legal documents prepared and filed with the court so that their matter can get before a judge without having to hire a lawyer. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

  4. Jorgina Dover December 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Hello, I’m active military and have a daughter from a previous marriage. The divorce, mediation and child custody agreement was done in Florida roughly 8 years ago. The agreement was 50/50, alternating weeks. Clearly it’s outdated and I have since been stationed in California. My ex husband lives an hour away and our daughter visits on some weekends and holidays. We pretty much leave it up to her since she is 14 and plays sports which can interfere with weekend visits. She has resided with me for the past 5 years. I’d like to have the custody arrangement in writing, legal, and also go about requesting child support. Would I be better off getting a lawyer or trying to do it all myself? He pays randomly towards her activities, sometimes that is, when I ask, but I want it done so I don’t have to ask and deal with the excuses.

    • Sandy McCarthy December 6, 2018 at 7:59 am

      If your case was in Florida I would assume you would need to file something in that court.

  5. Elizabeth Gijon November 22, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Hello, I’m curently going through divorce. I requested a domestic violence restraining order against husband. He has a temporary restraining order until hearing. I have temp. Sole legal and physical. Last hearing he requested a continuance and visitation. Judge granted him day visitation only. No overnight visits. Every Tuesday after school and every other sat and sun 10a-7p. Throughout my marriage he has been verbally emotionally abusive. Has had outbursts, thrown objects threatened to hurt animals and myself. Kicked us out of home. All in front of children. They have witnesses it all. We have two children ages 10 & 13. I have been a stay home parent throughout 10year marriage.
    My eldest child tells me he doesn’t want to go with dad. When dad pickup dad takes to his sisters house and does what he wants. Dads sister and mother don’t acknowledge our kids. They don’t say hi or anything. They’re basically ignored. Dad has told eldest to go with him to buy food. For example; this past Tuesday Dad took our son and his cousin to jack in the box. He gave son $8 told them to get off. When kids got off. Dad drove off. Went back to his sisters. Our son and cousin Didn’t know dads plan. They had to walk home. About 10blocks. Give or take. Not the best neighborhood. Dad makes comments when in Public that make son feel uncomfortable. My youngest, a girl, has been told that it’s her fault we’re getting divorced. When she’s told me what goes on or concerns kids have and i address to dad. On visitation day he tells her that she got him trouble. They both don’t like being with dad. They complain about going. They’re afraid to say anything that will anger him. Afraid to speak up when they don’t like something. There’s so much more. Him knowing that I don’t work, has had our utilities shut off. Hasn’t been financially supporting us. He moved out months ago. He has a stable job. A government employee. Claims to have money. And is requesting more time to not pay child support. He had hired an attorney. I cannot afford one. I lost a lot of friends because he is portraying me To as an abusibe person with anger issues. Tells everyone I kicked him out and denying him visitation to kids. That I neglect our children. I would like to know if there is a way to request modification of visitation to no visitation until restraining order hearing date. Which is a month from now. Or what can I do to modify visitation?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 1, 2018 at 3:27 am

      If you do not have a lawyer helping you it is critical that your documents are professionally prepared. We can certainly help you with the legal paperwork required to effectively present your concerns to the court. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

  6. Kristine October 21, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Hi there. I have a joint custody with the father of my son but I am the custodial parent. We have a set schedule ordered by court. I live with my family since I am working full time and had the court allow my family to give my son during pick up and drop off. The dad has not been compliant with the schedule and has often dropped him off early or didn’t pick up at all which happens every week. It has affected me and my family’s schedule especially with work because he picks him up late or when we have a personal scheduled appointment but he informs us late that he will not be getting my son. It has been really frustrating and even if i talk to him, he doesn’t take me seriously and just mocks and insults me. He abuses me emotionally, and my family and friends can atteat to it. If I file for a custody modification and court will just allow a change in schedule, what if he doesn’t follow that again? What should i do or say so I can explain it to court. Thank you in advance.

    • Sandy McCarthy October 21, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      It would be important to have a professional help you explain what has gone on if you want to have the best chance of a successful outcome. We have over 38 years in preparing these types of cases. Give us a call at 800-747-2780 for help.

  7. Katrina Flores June 27, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Hello. My name is Katrina Flores and I have seeking a modification in the child custody orders regarding my 2 boys, me being the Non-custodial parent. Long story short here it is… My life has been an unfortunate rollercoaster of physical, mental, and substance abuse since i was a child. An abusive relationship left me in the hospital numerous times and ultimately a single mother. I went to school and took care of my son and marriend my best friend at the age of 30. He adopted my son legally and then we had another boy together. I remained sober for 5 years and was doing well until we moved and my marriage began to crumble. I went to rehab for 3 months and came out very broken. I made two huge mistakes one being a dui with my child in the car (injury thank God) and I had been unfaithful to my husband while I was in rehab. No matter my reasons for the infidelity or drinking I was 100% wrong for doing those awful things. After the charge I went back to rehab. Mind you I had a real estate license and was a college student when I started drinking again. I was a binge drinker meaning I may have only drank a total of 30 days in the whole year, however I managed to wreck my whole life in those 30 days. My husband decided to serve me with divorce and custody papers on Easter morning while I was in rehab. While I was in rehab and going to court for the legal reprocussions of the dui, trying to get better and figure out why I keep doing this, I get divorce and custody papers .. I had money and could not file paperwork I did not have being I was in lauguna beach and he filed in Hemet. I did not show up to the hearing (still in rehab) and he got full legal and physical custody of my boys. I was devasted. He has no clue how hard I fought to get my son back after we went through the physical violence that left us both with protective orders and ultimately me bring the primary and sole custodial parent of my oldest. Needless to say my life has been turned upside down. My home, marriage, kids, carreer, life and dignity are gone. He is appointed the supervisor of my visitations to which he can decide when I can see my boys.. I have never been an abusive mother , I have worked hard to make something of myself however my ex husband is a dean of students and a social worker and I am just me. I see my boys once every two weeks for 4-6 hours. How is that possible? This cannot be right. I am almost finished with work release and am in my dui classes. I have 6 months sober now and I’m suffering without my boys. Do I have a case? Please help.

    • Sandy McCarthy June 27, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      If you want to file a motion to modify the current order, call us at 800-747-2780. We can help you present your case and concerns before the court.

  8. Eric May 29, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Hello, I currently have only about 38% custody of my two boys 11 & 15. I’m looking to modify custody to 50%. At the time custody was awarded my ex-wife did not work. Now she has a full time job.

    I work from home with very little travel so I am always available. My ex holds the boys back from athletic practices and other activities which the kids love. And it effects their standings and performance on the teams and group they are active in. They both expressed they want to see me more as the custody schedule does not allow visits from Thurs mornings to Wed afternoon on her weekends.

    Do you think that is enough to warrant a potential modification.

    • Sandy McCarthy May 31, 2018 at 10:56 am

      It is really hard to say how the court would look at any particular situation. What I can say is that our staff has prepared thousands of supporting declarations for this type of situation and we make every effort to offer the client’s story in a clear and concise manner and explain to the court your reasons for the requested change. Give our office a call for help with the paperwork at 800-747-2780.

  9. richard May 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Is there enough cuase to modified living custody based on the living circumstances (bedroom) if at the time of the establish case the child was small enough to share a room with a parent and now the kid is a teenager and the said parent, still has not made a reasonable effort to adhere the other parents and the child’s request for more space. ( the room is a modified cart port or laundry room in a garage apprx. 6ftx10ft)

    • Sandy McCarthy May 10, 2018 at 7:42 am

      These types of orders are always up to the judge but a teenager will also have the opportunity to share their wishes at mediation. Let us know if you need help with the paperwork.

  10. Randall Byers April 25, 2018 at 4:34 am

    Hello…my name is Randy and I am currently in a bit of a dilemma. I am the industrial parent of 2 boys ages 8 and 6. The 8 year old is struggling in school. He was recently granted an IEP. His mother and maternal grandmother is set on the boys going to private school. The same private school the children’s mother went to. During the evaluations at their current public school, the children’s mother was not very cooperative. She failed to fill out the parent evaluations or attend the IEP meeting. She informed me the children will be attending the private school in September. I am scared for my children, especially the oldest. I strongly feel he needs the special education that the IEP laid out which was to include an hour a day of education where he was pulled out of class and given special education in both writing and speech pathology. I don’t believe the private school has resources such as this for children with special needs. In addition, the private school is far out of the price range of myself or the children’s mom. I have no idea how she plans to pay for it, she just grins anytime I ask. Our current parenting plan has been in place since Aug. 2012. She had absconded with the children from our home in Indiana to live here with her mother. She claimed threats of abuse and alcohol abuse on my part were her reasons for leaving. Both accusations were false, they were merely a mechanism to move the jurisdiction to California. Unfortunately, the judge allowed it, giving her full legal and physical custody. My visitation currently is 45%. I get every Tuesday and Wednesday and every other Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Sunday they go to their mom at 5 P.M. Is this something I may be able to modify? I would love to gain joint custody and possibly put a stop to the children’s move to private school where the IEP will not be honored.

    • Sandy McCarthy April 25, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      As a parent you have the right to bring disputed issues before the court. If you would like help filing paperwork to have the court address your concerns, please give our office a call at 800-747-2780.

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