Can You Modify Your Child Custody Order out Of Court?

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

Child custody can be a sticky subject during divorce proceedings. When the court makes a ruling in the best interests of the child, it is important to understand that both parties are bound by it. Violating an existing custody order can land the responsible party in trouble with the law. 

But life is full of uncertainties. There can be many valid reasons to change a court-ordered custody and visitation arrangement. Subject to the change in circumstances, you and your spouse may agree to modify the custody order without necessarily involving the court. But is this possible?

Understanding Child Custody Order Modifications

Child custody has two components: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to how both parents will make decisions on behalf of the child while physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements after the divorce. Once a custody order is signed by the court, neither parent can take it upon themselves to modify it. You can only modify a custody order through the court. 

This does not mean, however, that you have to go through a big battle. If the custody order is no longer working and you and your co-parent are in agreement that it is due for modification, then you can petition the court for a change.

However, it is important to understand that the new agreement must focus on the best interests of the child. The court may not grant the requested changes unless it determines this to be so.

Safeguarding Your Child’s Best Interests

Learning more about California child custody laws can help you safeguard your child’s best interests while modifying an existing custody order.