Family law judges in California and around the country may modify child custody arrangements when doing so would be in the best interests of the child. Sometimes, custody arrangements are revised because custodial parents have problems with drugs or alcohol or enter into relationships with toxic or dangerous individuals, but judges could agree to a change in living arrangements simply because the child involved has decided that they would rather live with the noncustodial parent.
Custodial parents often feel hurt or betrayed when their children tell them that they would prefer to live with the parent’s former husband or wife, but it is important for them to keep their emotions under control and understand how difficult it must have been for the child to broach the subject. Divorce can be very hard on children, and acting hurt or reacting with anger or bitterness in these situations could cause long-term damage to parent-child relationships by making the child less likely to discuss sensitive issues in the future.
Children might make such a request because the brief time they spend with their noncustodial parent is so enjoyable. Noncustodial parents often make the most of the brief time they spend with their children by taking them to exciting or interesting places, and it is natural for children to want more of this. Before seeking a child custody modification, both parents should talk to the child and explain what the day-to-day reality of a change in living arrangements would be.
Experienced family law attorneys may petition the court on behalf of custodial or noncustodial parents who wish to make changes to child custody arrangements. Attorneys might point out that judges may be reluctant to grant these requests if doing so would involve major upheaval such as changing schools. Attorneys may also remind parents that any changes to child custody arrangements should be sanctioned by a judge as acting without judicial consent would place parents in violation of a court order.