Divorced or separated parents in California can reach an agreement about their schedule with each other or litigate in family court to establish an appropriate division of parental responsibilities and rights. A parenting time order entered by the family court is an enforceable document that imposes obligations on both co-parents accordingly.
Affected adults should make every reasonable effort to abide by the existing order and to work cooperatively with their co-parent whenever possible. A family’s parenting time order will outline how much parenting time each adult has and when the child will reside with each parent. As life evolves, sometimes families inevitably reach the conclusion that the existing parenting time order for their family no longer meets everyone’s needs.
When is it possible for California co-parents to change or modify a parenting time order?
When they agree that change is necessary
There are certain scenarios that lead to parents agreeing with each other that an adjustment of their schedule or the division of their parental responsibilities is necessary. Perhaps one of the parents recently started a new job with a very different schedule. Maybe the children have begun participating in extracurricular activities or have moved up to a different school with a very different schedule.
Provided that the adults in the family agree on the necessary changes, they have the opportunity to file paperwork for an uncontested modification at any point after the courts enter the initial order.
When what is best for the children changes
If there has been a significant change in family circumstances and the parents do not currently agree about how to divide parenting time, then it may be necessary for one of the adults in the family to file paperwork requesting a contested modification hearing.
A judge can review the existing order and hear about how the family’s circumstances have changed. They can then enter a new parenting time order based on what they believe would be in the best interests of the children.
Given that changes in the division of parenting time can have an impact on support obligations and family relationships, many parents are eager to make the changes to their household schedule official by modifying an existing order to better reflect their current arrangements and household needs. Knowing what steps to take when the family requires an update to an existing custody order may help parents more effectively navigate the family court system in California.