When Can Child Custody Be Modified?

When Is Child Custody Modification Allowed?

by Mar 26, 2021Child Custody

When a judge enters a final child custody order at the conclusion of a divorce trial, both parents need to follow and respect those orders to the letter. However, under certain circumstances, child custody orders can be modified post-judgment. Either parent, usually with the help of an attorney, can request child custody modification.

The most common circumstances under which custody can be modified are:

  1. When one parent is violating court orders
  2. When one or both parents have significant changes in circumstances

When considering a request for child custody modification, the judge will always consider the best interests of the child first, and make their decision based on the evidence presented by both parties.

Violating Court Orders

One of the most common issues between parents sharing custody is visitation rights. If either parent refuses court-ordered visitation rights to the other parent, that is a violation of court orders. While in most cases this particular issue won’t result in a judge modifying the custody orders, in extreme cases it could happen.

As difficult as it may be, it’s essential for the parent being denied visitation to work with their attorney and go through the proper legal process to enforce their visitation rights and request custody modification. Trying to work around the court is a bad idea and frequently results in producing the exact opposite outcome.

Ready To Speak To An Attorney?

Call us now at (707) 529-3200

Significant Changes In Circumstances

Significant changes in circumstances need to be both permanent and directly affect the well-being of the child.

Common examples of circumstances that can be used to request child custody modification include:

  • Drastically increased or reduced income
  • A physical or mental impairment
  • Relocating far from where the child currently lives

As an example, a parent who is initially denied custody and visitation rights due to drug or alcohol addiction may be able to request custody modification after completing a treatment program.

On the other hand, a parent who gets a moderate raise at work and wants to send their child to private school does not meet the threshold of “significant changes in circumstances” needed to request modifying custody.

How To Request Child Custody Modification

The best way to initiate a custody modification request is to work with an experienced divorce and family law attorney. The burden of proof will be on the parent who is requesting the modification. To present the best possible case, an attorney can help the requesting parent prepare for their hearing and gather evidence to use in court.

At Vonder Haar Law, we’ve helped many clients regain or modify child custody after their divorce. To learn more about how we can help with your case, please contact our office today.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

9 + 3 =