Fast. Fair. Thorough.

I live in California but was divorced in a different state. How can I change custody orders?

A new job, new opportunity, or desire to get closer to family and loved ones may lead to a move to California. Whatever the reason for the move, a move to a new state is never easy. Add in a divorce and children from the prior marriage that are making the move with you, and the frustrations can start to dampen the excitement of the move.

Although the process takes a few extra steps, it may still be well worth it.

Those who take the time, get approval from the other parent, and make the move can start their next chapter in their new home state. But what if you went through all of this and things are not going as smoothly as you thought? What if the original parenting plan is not working or the changes agreed to at the time of the move are insufficient?

Those looking to change custody orders after moving to a new state have options, but it is important to move forward carefully. The process is a legal one, and there is a need to follow specific rules and procedures. Although the exact path is different for each family, most will need to follow these two steps.

#1: Transfer the case.

If you cannot return to the original state to request the modification, you may consider requesting a change of venue. Venue is the legal term for the location of the court that hears and decides on your case.

The process to change the court, or venue, generally starts with the need to file an order with the court to have the case transferred to California. This motion, or request for order, is a formal request to move the case. The filing generally includes a supporting declaration and additional documents.

#2: Request child custody modification

Once the court transfers the case, you can move forward with a request for changes to the child custody agreement, known as modifications. To request a modification to a child custody order in California, the parent fills out a Request Order with the court. This order includes information on the requested change and an explanation for how the change is in the best interest of the child.

It is also important to include clear information in the Facts to Support portion of the motion and additional documents like the Child Custody and Visitation Application, copies of report cards, or a school counsellor’s support letter.

After the filing, you will complete the service of the motion to the other parent. The next step could include a court hearing.

The move was the first step, and now it is time to make sure the custody order is set up in a way that helps ensure your children thrive. You do not have to go through this process on your own. Legal counsel can review your situation and discuss the best options for your family.