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Changing a custody arrangement after the divorce is finalized

After months of mediating, fighting for your rights and negotiating the terms of your divorce, you may think that everything is finalized after you are declared divorced. In reality, changing locations, needs and circumstances can mean constant adjustments to the parenting plan for both you and your ex-spouse. While you should always consult with an experienced attorney to determine individual solutions, there are a few things you need to know about changing your custody arrangement.

Prove a need

In order for the courts to approve any changes to your existing arrangement, you will need to show that your circumstances or those of your children have changed to the point that the old agreement is no longer working. The California Court System states that this could be due to several causes, including:

  • A relocation
  • A new job or work schedule
  • New activities in your child's schedule
  • New partners

The most important factor to the judge will be the well-being of the children. You must be able to show that any changes will enhance and improve the situation of each member in your family. This is especially important if there has been past abuse and you feel the visitation of your ex-spouse needs to be limited.

Determine court requirements

Each state has different rules concerning what will need to be completed before a schedule can be altered. California courts may require parents to attend an orientation, fill out paperwork and file forms with the court clerk. If the other parent is unwilling to agree to a new schedule and attend the hearing, you may need to have someone serve a copy of your papers. You may also need to file a Proof of Service.

Decide what you want

Whether you have had a major life change, such as a move, or your children are enrolled in new extracurricular activities, it is important that you decide what your ideal schedule would be before you step foot in a courtroom. Consider whether or not holiday schedules have been working, how children have been managing time splitting and whether you are able to balance the time constraints. You may find there are other issues that are unrelated to the main change but could still be improved with an altered schedule. Be prepared with these beforehand to avoid another court hearing in the future to fix them.

Whenever you are handling custody changes or any other legal factors concerning your divorce, the best route is to always enlist the help of an attorney. Contact a divorce lawyer today to ensure that you are thoroughly represented and ready for your case.

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