In the absence of child abuse and neglect issues, a person seeking to modify a child custody order or Permanent Parenting Plan must file a Petition to Modify the Order or Permanent Parenting Plan in the court where the original order occurred, and show as a threshold issue that a “material change in circumstances” has occurred since the time that the original child custody order or Permanent Parenting Plan went into effect. Some examples would be that the children may be older or express a preference to live with the other parent, or the children are having school problems, behavior problems or other coping problems in their current home. Or, there could be circumstances where one of the parents is not abiding by the parenting plan or otherwise not following court orders or acting in the children’s best interests.
Once the Court determines that there is a material change in circumstances, it’s next step is to determine if a change in custody in the children’s best interests. The Court will look at the totality of the circumstances in deciding that issue.
Please be aware that most Permanent Parenting Plans require the parties to mediate before filing a Petition to Modify in Court.
Also, if there are allegations of abuse or neglect, the proper court to file in is the Juvenile Court in the county where the children reside, which has exclusive jurisdiction over dependency and neglect matters. We can help you navigate your way through this system.