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Know when it's time to modify your custody order

If you divorced when your kids were very young, as they grow up, you may discover that the custody order needs to be adjusted to continue to meet their changing needs. These changes typically are made without too mush of a fuss from the parents or kids.

But there are other reasons for modifying a custody order that might cause some squawking. Here's how that might play out.

You both initially sought to co-parent the kids together civilly. But, somewhere along the line, the situation deteriorated markedly. Maybe mom got an inappropriate boyfriend around whom the kids are uncomfortable. Or Dad might have begun drinking too much or doing illegal drugs.

Or maybe one parent has been disparaging the other to the children, creating rifts in the parent-child relationship. Whatever the reason, the co-parenting relationship is no longer functioning well.

Parallel parenting is an option to co-parenting when the latter no longer is viable. Here, parents tend to the kids on separate tracks with little or no collaboration. Think dual birthday celebrations, separate parent-teacher conferences, etc. You minimize at all times the instances when you will both be present together with the kids.

Of course, if the kids are in danger from a lecherous step-parent or impaired parent, this is not a safe option. In these circumstances, it means that it's time to head back to court for a custody modification. Unlike in the first scenario where the changes that need to be made are organic and related to the kids' developmental stages, the other modifications will typically be hotly contested by the other parent.

So, if you and your attorney plan to file for a custody modification in the Orange County family law courts, you should steel yourself for a battle.

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