Can you make changes to your custody order outside of court?

wooden judge on books on the desk

Parenting together isn’t easy when your relationship is over, but that is what many Californians have to do. The parenting plan or custody order created when you divorced or broke up explains what responsibilities each parent has to the children and when they have parenting time.

Both parents should follow that order carefully to avoid conflicts. Eventually, you will likely need to adjust those terms due to changes in your family circumstances. Doing so requires that you go to court and ask for a custody modification.

Why would you go back to court rather than just reaching an agreement with your ex?

A custody order is a court order subject to enforcement actions

The most compelling reason to go to court to change a custody order even if your ex agrees to the changes you want is to protect yourself. You could face enforcement actions from the court if your parenting doesn’t align with the existing custody order.

Any terms not in writing will be difficult for you to enforce. More concerning is the fact that your ex could potentially initiate enforcement activity against you. You could keep the kids out later than you used to, for example, because they are older, only to have your ex call and report you for not bringing them home in time.

You could face complications and consequences if you uphold the terms you set in a verbal agreement with your ex rather than the terms set by the courts. Additionally, changes to your parenting time arrangements could have an impact on the child support obligation for your family as well.

Understanding the benefits of seeking a formal custody modification can help you see the value in going back to California family court even if you and your co-parent agree to the changes.


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