Child custody and child visitation are two of the most important aspects of a divorce case that involves minor children in California. It is critical to fully understand your rights as a parent after a divorce case, including the right to request a modification of your child custody or visitation schedule. You may be able to change your parenting plan in Sacramento for a valid reason.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
Your parenting plan is the child custody and visitation agreement that you either created with your spouse or received as an order from the court in your divorce case. The parenting plan dictates how and when a parent can legally spend time with a minor child. Breaching the terms of a parenting plan is against the law and can result in penalties such as being held in contempt of court or even being charged with a crime such as parental kidnapping. This is why it is important to modify your child visitation schedule through the correct legal outlets.
What Requirements Are Needed for Modifying a Parenting Plan in Sacramento, CA?
It is possible to modify a child visitation schedule or parenting plan in Sacramento with approval from the courts. A judge will only approve a parenting plan modification request if the requesting parent has the permission of the other parent or can prove a change in circumstances. To use the first method, you and your spouse will create a revised parenting plan or visitation schedule together, fill out and sign the required court forms, get a judge’s signature, and file the papers with the court clerk. Once filed, the new parenting plan will go into effect.
If you and your spouse do not agree on the change, you can go directly to the court to request a revised parenting plan. With this method, you will need to prove to a judge that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the first order was given and that as such, it is in the best interests of the child to modify the visitation schedule. Changes in circumstances may include:
- A child enrolling in school
- A child developing new needs
- A parent moving away
- A parent wanting to relinquish custody
- A different long-term work schedule
- Domestic violence allegations
- Substance abuse problem
- One parent’s arrest or incarceration
Fill out Form FL-300 and file it with the court clerk to start your case. You will be given a hearing or mediation date. Serve the papers on the other parent and file your proof of service. You and the other parent will have the chance to each state your case before a judge. The judge will carefully listen to both sides and determine whether you have met the requirements for child visitation schedule modification. If so, the judge will grant your request and the new visitation schedule will go into effect. If not, the original parenting plan will remain intact.
When to Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Sacramento
You must have a valid reason for modifying a court-ordered custody or visitation schedule in Sacramento. Otherwise, a judge will reject your modification request. You will also need evidence that supports your request, such as a new work schedule, police records, statements from a doctor or teacher, or a custody journal. You must be able to prove that the change is in the child’s best interests.
If your ex-spouse is contesting the modification request, it may be necessary to hire a child visitation lawyer in Sacramento to represent you during your case. A lawyer can gather evidence and prepare for your custody hearing with you. An attorney can also help you during mediation or arbitration. A lawyer can take over negotiations on your behalf to increase the chances of achieving a compromise, avoiding a trial and modifying your parenting plan.