In California, the family law courts will approve a schedule that the parents have been following for as long as it does not significantly affect the children. This is referred to as your parenting time or visitation.
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Child Custody Modification
One parents may want a child custody modification when the current child custody arrangement is no longer workable.
Child Custody Modification & Child’s Best Interests
Generally, a court will not consider altering a child custody modification if the current arrangement appears to be working for all involved parties. Primarily, a court’s concern is the best interests of the child, meaning that a court will not want to interrupt a child’s way of life and well-being for frivolous reasons. A court will scrutinize the reasons why a parent would consider altering a child custody arrangement before ordering a child custody modification.
The noncustodial parent will need to explain why they are requesting a child custody modification and why it is in the best interests of the children. The custodial parent, who is facing a child custody modification request, should take into consideration whether or not the schedule has been working for the children and for the parents and what effects the changes would be on the children and parents.
Right to Frequent Contact
Under California law, both parents have a right to enjoy frequent and continuing contact with their children. This means that both parents are to have contact with their children unless it is not in the best interests of the children. The best interests of the children are a concern when children suffer from or are affected by child abuse, child endangerment, domestic violence, or substance abuse.
Visitation and Parenting Time
Under California law, the custodial parent cannot interfere with the non-custodial parent’s visitation; also known as parenting time. A California Family Court takes into consideration interference and uncooperative parenting by one parent when they make child custody decisions. Interference often occurs when the custodial parent:
- Plans activities with the children during the non-custodial parent’s visitation time;
- Refuses to follow court orders to pick up and drop off children or delays the exchange of the children to the non-custodial parent;
- Alienates the children by encouraging them to not see the non-custodial parent;
- Uses the children as messengers by discussing with them divorce or custody proceedings to make the non-custodial parent’s time less enjoyable;
- Makes disparaging remarks about the non-custodial parent to influence how the children’s feel or view the non-custodial parent;
- Makes false allegations about the non-custodial parent that they have committed child abuse, child neglect, or domestic violence against the child, sibling, or the custodial parent;
- Refuses to co-parent with the non-custodial parent;
- Violates joint legal custody rights by not consulting with the non-custodial parent or by not obtaining their consent on important decisions involving the children.
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