Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Bay Area Family Attorneys > Blog > Child Custody Visitation > Top Ways to Defend Against a Custody Modification Request

Top Ways to Defend Against a Custody Modification Request


It is natural to feel uncertain, or anxious, if you hear whispers that your child’s other parent is going to file a motion to modify custody or visitation of your child or children. It is reasonable to feel this way because modifications to custody and visitation arrangements can have a big impact on you, your children, and your relationship with the other parent. While not every child custody or visitation change is a bad thing, it is important that you take the right steps to ensure that you best protect your relationship with your child. This is particularly true if you find yourself in the position of needing to defend yourself and your parenting abilities.

This article will take readers through some strategies that might be used to successfully defend against a motion for a child custody and/or visitation modification from the California court system.

Potential Defenses Against Custody Modification Requests

In general, courts in California make initial custody and visitation decisions, and can modify temporary custody orders based on the “best interests” of the child. Custody and visitation orders in California are always modifiable. However, to succeed on a motion to modify more permanent custody or visitation orders, your child’s other parent must provide evidence to the court that there has been a “significant” change in circumstances since the time the current child custody and visitation arrangement was put into action. Courts will generally refrain from altering or modifying permanent custody and visitation orders, particularly when the orders are part of a divorce judgment, (also known as “Montenegro/Diaz” orders), if evidence of a significant change in circumstances cannot be presented.

The reasoning behind this requirement is primarily to protect the children and to again, continue to focus on the “best interests of the child.” Generally speaking, stability in the child’s life will trump a mere desire on the part of one of the parents. The courts must be shown that there is a compelling change and a compelling reason behind changing the existing status quo.

One way to combat a motion to modify an existing child custody or visitation agreement is to demonstrate to the courts that there has not been a significant change. You should be prepared to counter evidence your child’s other parent brings to the court’s attention.

  • Anticipate how you can put the other parent’s evidence into proper context. In the first place, be wary of what you post on social media. Have in mind that your child’s other parent may try to weaponize and present things out of context. If they do present such a post to the court, be prepared to explain in proper context.
  • Speak with neighbors, friends, family members – see if you can present witnesses to the court that can back you up and contradict evidence presented by your child’s other parent.
  • Are there holes in your ex’s story? Can some or all presented evidence be contradicted?
  • Consider bringing in an expert, such as your child’s school counselor, to speak to the child’s state of mind.
  • Request a child custody evaluation – the opinion of the neutral third party can help give the court an unbiased perspective.

Don’t Leave Child Custody and Visitation Matters to chance

The outcome of a child custody or visitation modification hearing has the potential to reshape the relationship you have with your child. Be sure that you advocate for yourself and your child’s best interests as any potential case moves forward. The experienced San Francisco child custody and visitation lawyers at Cardwell, Steigerwald Young can help – contact our office today.




Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2022 - 2024 Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.