A child’s parents will likely want to modify a child custody or visitation order after a judge’s final judgment. There are many reasons why a parent would want to modify their visitation orders. Unfortunately, many of these parents who want more time with their child go about it in a way that doesn’t give them the results they anticipated.
Trying to negotiate with the other parent may seem like a great idea, but it’s never a guarantee. That’s why it is advisable to seek the help of Orange County family law attorneys who can make this modification request with the court.
When Can I Request for A Modification of Visitation Time in Orange County?
You can request a modification of your visitation orders at any time. However, modifying a visitation order will have to be necessary or proper to be approved. So if you are merely dissatisfied with the terms and obligations, it is less likely the court will approve a change in your visitation schedules.
The courts will always favor the best interests of a child. So if the child is doing well and the current arrangement is working, the court may hesitate to modify the visitation order. Therefore, you will need to have a compelling reason for the modification. Let an Orange County child visitation lawyer hear you out first and advise you accordingly before proceeding with the request.
If your attorney deems it to be a compelling reason, then the goal will be to convince the court that there have been some changes that would necessitate a new visitation order since the entry of the previous order.
What Do I Need to Prove to Modify My Visitation Orders?
With the help of your Orange County child visitation lawyer, you can prove why the visitation orders need a modification. You will need to prove that:
- You are seeking the modifications in the best interests of the child
- There has been a significant change of circumstances since you entered the first order, which affects the child’s wellbeing
- You already tried mediation if the modification is contested by the other parent
What Reasons Can a Judge Allow for A Change of Child Visitation in California?
The judge may consider these reasons:
- Physical relocation of one parent. The move may affect the current arrangement
- The child’s needs have changed
- The parent’s circumstances have changed
- The child is in danger either from physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse
- The child prefers to spend more time with the non-custodial parent
- The non-custodial parent moved closer to the custodial parent
- One of the parents is refusing to follow the child custody order, e.g., not returning the child on time
- One parent is being unreliable and irresponsible (not keeping time when taking the kid to school, taking alcohol in the presence of the child, etc.)
- The non-custodial parent’s work schedule has changed
How Do I Request for Modification of Visitation Time in California?
You will have to file a petition with the proper court if you wish to modify your visitation order. You will need to fill out forms that detail schedules for holidays, visits, etc., which will prepare you for a new parenting plan.
You will need to:
- Get a family law attorney
A family law attorney in Orange County who understands visitation modifications will provide you with the advice and guidance you need throughout the process.
- Fill out the forms with the court clerk. You will remain with two copies while the clerk retains the original.
- Serve the papers
You will give a copy of your papers to the other parent and a blank Responsive Declaration to Request for Order. You should do this not less than 16 days to the court date.
- File a proof of service.
The judge will weigh the evidence presented and determine whether the modification request is in the child’s best interest.
What Should I Do If I Want to Increase My Stepparent Visitation Rights?
Stepparent visitation is a complex issue in family law. While you cannot change denial of stepparent visitation rights, you can modify an order to either increase or decrease visitation time.
This is not always a simple process because visitation usually favors biological parents. Therefore, you should work closely with an experienced Orange County visitation rights attorney if you have a stepparent visitation rights matter.
Factors Considered in A Stepparent Visitation
The same rules apply to a stepparent. You will have to show how the modification is in the child’s best interests. You will have to build a strong case for this with the help of your visitation lawyer in Santa Ana.
The Orange County family court will consider the following:
- Any existence of a relationship and emotional ties between the stepparent and the child
- The degree of involvement of the stepparent in the child’s life
- The period the stepparent has spent in the child’s life as an actual parent
- The financial support of the stepparent to the child
- The degree of harm it will cause the child should the stepparent be denied increased visitation time
Can I Get a Visitation Modification Without Going to Court?
Yes, you can if you agree with the other parent, and only a judge’s signature will be required. But if you disagree, the judge will have to decide for you. The agreement will be legally binding but not enforceable by the court.
Potential Pitfalls of Not Going to Court
One of the disadvantages of an arrangement between the parents is that the court cannot enforce it but can only enforce the original order.
You will have to have it legally modified by a judge if you want the court to enforce it. The second pitfall is that things can turn along the way when the other parent starts overstepping the boundaries.
Learn Your Options Today with Experienced Family Lawyers in Orange County
Knowing whether your reasons for a visitation modification is often a tricky legal question. And because we understand how important family is, we advise you to seek the advice of a knowledgeable child visitation lawyer in California.
We understand the relationship you have with your child, and that’s why we fight to protect families just like yours. If you’re in Newport Beach or Santa Ana, we can meet to answer all your questions. Get in touch with us today and we’ll walk this journey together.