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When To Seek A Child Custody Modification

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Once all terms of a divorce, including property division and child custody, have been resolved, the judge overseeing the case will issue a divorce decree. The divorce decree outlines the terms, as well as each party’s rights and responsibilities after the divorce.

The terms outlined in the divorce decree are final and legally binding and failing to follow them could result in serious penalties. For example, a person who does not comply with a divorce decree can be found in contempt of court, have to pay high fines, and the original order may be modified to favor the other parent. However, there are other times when a child custody order may be modified, as well. Below, our Santa Clara County child custody lawyer outlines when these are.

The Child’s Safety and Well-Being is in Danger

A child’s safety and well-being is the main priority during child custody proceedings. If you suspect that your former spouse is abusing them, or placing them in a dangerous situation, you can petition the court to modify the order. For example, perhaps your ex is not a violent person, but their new romantic partner is.  In this case, you could also ask the court to modify the order to keep the child safe.

The Other Parent has a Substance Abuse Problem

If your former spouse is suffering from an alcohol or drug abuse problem, you can also use this as grounds to modify a child custody order. Substance abuse in the home has many negative effects on children. A substance abuse problem may cause a parent to become violent or aggressive, or may prevent them from providing the care, guidance, and support children need. Requesting a modification can also help lead your spouse to getting the help they need to be healthy.

Your Former Spouse is Incarcerated

Parents need to have an active and regular presence in the life of their child. If a parent is in jail, it becomes impossible for them to do this. Their ability to provide adequate care, guidance, and support is also greatly limited. As such, incarceration is one of the many reasons you can modify a child custody order.

Your Former Spouse Passes Away

California law specifically addresses what is to happen in the event that a divorced parent of a minor child passes away. In these situations, the surviving parent automatically receives sole custody. Due to the fact that there is only one parent remaining, the original custody order is void. However, there is an important exception in the law. If a judge does not believe giving the surviving parent sole custody is in the best interests of the child, they can award custody to someone else or place the child in the state foster care program.

Our Child Custody Lawyer in Santa Clara County Can Help with Your Modification

It is possible to modify part of your divorce decree, but you should not do it alone. At Hepner & Pagan, LLP, our lawyers helping clients with child custody in Santa Clara County can prepare you for the process and guide you through every step of the process so you can obtain the best outcome possible. Call us now at 408-688-9153 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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