Common Reasons a Judge Could Modify Child Custody in California

Modifying child custody arrangements can be a highly stressful task, but only if you don’t know what to expect. If you are planning on taking your previous custody agreement and making changes to it, there are several common reasons why the judge could deny your request.

First and foremost, you must understand that a judge will only make a change if they believe it’s in the child’s best interests. There are a variety of reasons a judge might modify child custody, some of which are listed below.

The Parent or Child’s Behavior Have Changed

If either of these things change for the worse since your original custody agreement was made, the judge may be more likely to modify it. The fact that your child is now showing signs of being defiant or unruly could mean that a change in custody is necessary to ensure their safety and well-being. Similarly, parental behavior – such as becoming unemployed or engaging in criminal activity – could also lead to a change in custody, if only to keep the child away from these negative influences.

The Child Has Been Living With a Sibling or Extended Family Member for at Least Six Months

If your child has been living with a sibling or other relative for six months or more without issues, it’s possible that the court may allow this arrangement to continue. This can be seen as a better situation for the child, as they will continue to have access to siblings and the support of their extended family.

There Have Been Significant Changes in Financial Circumstances

If there have been significant changes in either you or your ex-spouse’s financial circumstances since the original custody agreement was made, this could lead to a custody change. For example, if one of you has gotten fired or experienced major medical issues that prevent them from working, the judge may decide it best for your child to live with their other parent until these circumstances improve.

The Child Wishes to Live With Their Other Parent

If your child is old enough – typically over the age of 12 – and they state that they want to live with their other parent, the judge is likely to take this into account. This preference from the child will be weighed against all other factors in the case before a final decision is made.

The Parent With Custody Is Moving Away

If the parent who currently has custody of the child is moving away, the other parent may petition the court for a change in custody. The judge will take into account how far away the parent is moving, as well as how it will impact the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent.

Other Significant Changes in Circumstances

If there is another significant change in circumstances not already mentioned, this may also be grounds for modifying custody. For example,  if one of your child’s doctors or therapists recommends the change in custody in order to best support their treatment plan, this situation could lead to a modification in your original agreement.

Reasons Why Your Request Might Be Denied

While there are several reasons that a judge might opt to modify your child custody agreement, there are still other reasons why the request might be denied. These include but are not limited to:

  • The child’s current arrangement is in their best interests.
  • You have gone through your entire allotted number of custody modification requests without success.
  • The change you want to make would significantly shift the child’s living situation and potentially cause harm or discomfort.
  • The other parent is not in agreement with your request.

Partner with a Family Law Attorney

No matter what the reason for your custody modification request, it’s important to remember that the judge’s decision will always be based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child. If you’re not sure whether or not you should petition the court for a change, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process.

Speak with Monarch Family Law to get a better understanding of how the court may rule on your specific case. With our knowledge and guidance, you can make sure that what’s best for your child is taken into account.