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Child custody law balances stability, best interests of child

Usually, when a person in the San Francisco area settles his or her case, they should consider the agreement they come to final. Whether they are agreeing to pay money or do or not do something, they will generally be held to whatever bargain they come to, and their deal will only be set aside in the rarest of cases, usually if they somehow were duped in to signing it.

Such is not the case, however, when it comes to child custody and parenting time, as both parents are free to ask for a change in the terms of the agreement, in theory at any time and, again in theory, as often as they would like.

The law of California allows for custody modifications freely because it recognizes that courts and parents need to be able to adapt a custody arrangement to meet the child's current and ongoing needs.

However, a parent cannot expect to change his or her agreement simply at the drop of a hat. Because the law presumes that stability is also a good thing for a couple's children, a court may only change custody and parenting time if a parent shows a "significant change of circumstances."

Although the law is flexible as what a "significant change" might be, the point is a parent has to bring new information to light based on events that happened after the court issued its last order. The courts of California are not in the business of second-guessing custody and parenting time orders, particularly if they were reached by an agreement.

Still, the point is that no parent should consider their parenting plans set in stone, nor should they feel obligated to just let them be even in the face of changes in their, the other parent's or the child's life circumstances.

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