Can We Modify Our Child’s Visitation Schedule Without Going to Court?

Divorce decrees and custody schedules are designed to last. Courts and legislators know that these schedules must be clear, yet flexible, to account for the inevitable changing circumstances of growing children.

However, nothing is foolproof. As children age, their school schedules and participation in extracurricular activities can vary vastly. Similarly, the schedules and job demands of the parents may change as well. As a result, the original visitation order may no longer be workable. In this case, the order needs to be amended to protect both parties. This however, does not mean that you must go back to court; although that may be the appropriate action. As with most instances of parenting: it’s much easier if you agree.

Agreed Modifications

In California, if parents can agree on the changes to the visitation schedule, then you will need to fill out a few forms and submit them to your judge to make it a binding, enforceable court order. The exact process for doing so varies from court to court, so make sure you contact your local clerk or attorney to ensure you are following the correct procedure. You will usually need to fill out Form FL-255 and Form FL-341, but depending on the individual circumstances of your case, there are other forms you might use, such as a holiday schedule attachment. Both parents must sign before submitting to the judge.

Modifications without an agreement

If you and the other parent cannot agree to the modification, then a motion must be filed with the court to request a hearing. At the hearing, the party requesting the modification for the visitation schedule needs to show that such a change would be in the child’s best interest.

On the other hand, if the proposed change in visitation results in a change in parenting time, then you will actually be requesting a custody modification. In order to request a change in the custody order, the requesting party must show that such a change would be in the child’s best interest AND that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last custody order.

Therefore, simply wanting to modify the visitation schedule is a lower burden than modifying custody. The requesting party must show facts and evidence that it is in the child’s best interest. Keeping a calendar of events, times when the child is late to school or has missed activities, has failed to turn in homework after in possession of the other parent, and things of that nature would all be useful evidence to share with the court at a visitation modification hearing.

Getting a Family Law Attorney

Sometimes, getting an attorney can help you persuade a reluctant co-parent to change the schedule without attending court. Even if the parties agree and work well together, getting an affordable attorney will be able to help you draft the agreement to ensure it is accurate and enforceable. Custody schedules are notoriously complex, no matter your jurisdiction, and a competent attorney can make sure the agreement is clear and flexible, so that you can avoid having to return to court shortly after.

Family Law Firm in Long Beach, Ca

At Shoreline Legal Group, we are a modern law firm offering practical, affordable solutions for your particular needs. Our firm is founded on the principle that all people deserve access to justice. We make attorney services affordable by “unbundling” our legal services into manageable steps priced at a fixed fee. We believe in inexpensive divorces and family cases, so that you have extra cash to support your family and create the best life possible for your children. Serving Long Beach, Cerritos, Santa Ana, and Orange, CA as well as surrounding areas.

Julie Resner
About the Author: Julie Resner