What do you need to show to a family court judge in order to change a Child Custody Order?

In child custody cases, California Family Court judges still need to see persuasive facts to help them determine whether a change of circumstance has occurred that is substantial enough for judges to modify a prior child custody order. That rule has been in place for quite some time now in the area of family law. Attorneys practicing in the field of family law are quite familiar with the rule.

Recently, in a case titled, Christina L. vs. Chauncey B. (September 2014), the Court of Appeal for California for the First Appellate District, ruled on a case coming out of Solano County family court. In that case, the appellate court once again affirmed the importance for the use and application of the change of circumstance rule.

In Christina L., the mother of two children argued successfully to the appellate court that the family court needed to determine whether the father had demonstrated a change of circumstance requiring the family court to modify a prior child custody order which gave legal and physical custody of the children to the mother. The mother and father had had previous family law litigation over the issue of child custody including mother's request for domestic violence orders which were granted to her by the family court in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011. In 2011, the family court awarded sole legal and sole physical custody of the two children to mother. Further, the restraining orders issued in 2011 were in effect for two years and were still effective by the time father brought his case to modify the child custody orders of 2011, as explained below.

In 2013, father then requested modification of the child custody orders of 2011 claiming that the mother had violated the previous restraining orders and further claiming mother made false accusations about him in order to obtain the previous custody orders. Father also claimed that he wanted his two children to have a relationship with another child he had from another relationship. The family court agreed with father's position despite the history of domestic violence perpretated by father and despite current restaining orders in effect. The family court stated that mother did not bring forward enough evidence for the court to show that the safety, welfare, and health of the children would not be met.

HUH?- strange but true; the court made an order giving the parents shared legal and physical custody.

The appellate court disagreed with the family court. The appellate court reversed the order made by the family court. Although the appellate court reversed that decision by examining and ruling about the effects of prior domestic violence orders currently in place, the appellate court also explained that any parent who seeks to modify a previous child custody order must demonstrate changes in circumstances affecting a child that would persuade a family court to change such an order. The parent who seeks to change a child custody order has the burden to prove there exist changes in circumstances.

Family court judges generally are reluctant to change prior child custody orders but will do so only when the changes of circumstances are substantial and there are material facts showing such changes that it would be in the best interest of the child to change a custody order.

Whenever you face legal challenges involving the custody of children, contact the Gonzalez Law Firm for an evaluation and consultation of your legal issue. Attorney David Gonzalez can help you get on the right track of your legal issue. He can effectively represent you and help you get the child custody or visitation order you are seeking. The Gonzalez Law Firm has offices in Santa Ana and Fullerton. He represents clients whose cases are before the family courts in the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange, California, the Pomona family court, the Riverside family court, and the Norwalk family court in Los Angeles County. Contact his firm at 1-877-345-2997.