Child Visitation Schedule after Divorce

By Henry F. Lewis on March 05, 2020

 

Often times, after divorce, the needs of the children change.  This can be due to a new school, new social ties, new extracurricular activities, or just getting older.   A schedule that worked for a child when they were 8 may not work for a child who is 15.    I am often asked whether or not custody and visitation schedules that are in a divorce judgment can be changed.   The answer is yes, but it depends on the needs of your child or children.

Child Custody vs Visitation

There is a distinction in the law between post-judgment modifications of custody, as opposed to post-judgment modifications of the visitation schedule. 

To modify a final order of custody, the person seeking the change needs to show a change of circumstances as a threshold issue before the court will even consider the request on the merits. This initial showing arises from case law and the desire to make judgments a permanent ruling. See, for example, Fay v Fay (1938) 12 C2d 279 and  Marriage of McLoren (1988) 202 CA3d 108, 730.

Many things can constitute a change of circumstances, including the passage of time, but generally there needs to be a very good reason as to why you are requesting the change.  Then, if you are able to show a change of circumstances, then you still need to show that changing custody is in the best interest of the child or children. 

What about the Visitation Schedule?

There is no need to show a change of circumstances to change the visitation schedule, so long as the change is not so great that it impacts custody.  For example, if the visitation schedule is week on / week off, and you want to change the exchange day from Monday to Wednesday, all you need to show is that the change is in the best interest of your child – IE, that there is a good reason to do so.

However, if you want the visits with the other parent to change from week on / week off, to only every other weekend, this would be seen as changing custody as well, and you would need to show a change of circumstances.

However, generally, you can change a visitation schedule without the need to show a change of circumstances.  The court will merely look as to whether your proposed change is in the best interest of the child.  

Get Help from Our Family Law Attorneys

If you have a case in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties and need help with your custody agreement, the attorneys of Gardner Lewis, LLP can help. To schedule a consultation, please call (510) 451-4822.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822