As this blog has discussed, parents in the Los Angeles area who are raising children in separate homes have the option of asking a court to review their parenting plans and make changes to them. This is true even when the couple originally agreed on the parenting plan.
In order to ask a court for a child custody modification, or even a less significant change in the current parenting plan, a parent will have to file the appropriate paperwork, ordinarily with the California court that made the original custody and parenting time orders.
If the parents have already agreed on the changes they want, then finalizing the changes may be simply a matter of submitting the new agreement to the court for a review. The court still has the obligation to make sure that the agreement is in the best interests of the children involved.
When parents do not agree on a change, the parent wanting the change will have to show that the change is in the best interest of the child. Moreover, the parent will also need to prove that the change is needed now because there has been a corresponding change in circumstances involving the child.
It is hard to give a complete list of what are and are not changes in circumstances. As such, a parent who feels he or she needs a custody modification should speak to an experienced family law attorney about his or her options.
However, as general guidance, a change in circumstances is going to involve some recent development, that is, one which happened since the court last entered a custody order. The development should pertain to one of the factors courts use when determining child custody. These factors were discussed on a recent blog post.