Family Code 3022 and Modification / by Cassandra Hearn

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After a divorce or custody action, one of the only sure things is that change is coming.  Where parents and spouses have spent much time and energy devoted to constructing their life and future together, each must now go his or her own way and make his or her own plans.  When you and the other spouse share children, this can present more difficulties in the form of a new case for modification of the prior custody order.  There are a variety of reasons that you may need to modify a custody order, ranging from a potential relocation to a new work schedule. 

California Family Code 3022 provides that during the pendency of a case “or any time thereafter,” a court can make a court order that “seems necessary and proper.”  This means that unlike some states, California has no waiting period to file a modification action after the entry of a prior custody order.  At any time after a custody decree is signed by the judge, you or the other parent can bring a case to change the current order.

You should understand, however, that just because California family code 3022 provides that a judge may make a different order at any time, it does not mean that either parent can ask for a new order simply for no reason at all.  In order to modify a prior custody order, the parent seeking the change will need to prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances.  This change needs to be major and not temporary, and also needs to be a change that impacts the child.  For example, if your job changes so that you will work second shift during the times you are supposed to have the child after school, this could be a change major enough to request a modification as you may not be able to fulfill your parenting duties or spend time with the child during your assigned parenting time.  Conversely, if you get a new job, but the hours are the same as your last job and the location of the new job will not affect your ability to spend court ordered time with your child, this will likely not be an adequate change to modify the prior order.

If you have questions about modification of custody orders, call us today.  We can talk to you about your case and what we can do to help you.