• 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+00:00September 1st, 2015|Family Law|10 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. Randall Byers April 25, 2018 at 4:34 am - Reply

    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 - Reply

      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.

  2. richard May 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    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 - Reply

      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.

  3. Eric May 29, 2018 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    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 - Reply

      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.

  4. Katrina Flores June 27, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    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 - Reply

      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.

  5. Kristine October 21, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    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 - Reply

      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.

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