The custody order set by a judge or agreed on by you and your ex determines how much time you get to spend with your children. Your custody order controls everything from how far you can travel during a family vacation to how much child support you receive, as the division of parenting time directly relates to the financial obligations of the parents.
When your ex stops showing up for parenting time, you probably want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe their job has become more demanding or their schedule has changed. Your willingness to work with your ex and put your children first can protect the relationship with their other parent even when that parent doesn’t prioritize a connection with the kids.
However, when cancellations or no-shows become a standard part of your custody-sharing arrangements, it may be time to ask for a modification.
The California courts can and will revise existing custody orders
Your family circumstances can change in an instant, requiring that you revise your custody arrangements. Either parent can request a custody modification under California law.
Both can agree to certain terms and file an uncontested modification request. If they don’t agree, they can pursue contested proceedings, much like with divorce filings. The judge will look at the family circumstances and the documentation provided by the parents to decide if a change to the custody order is in the best interest of the children.
An order that reflects your daily life better supports the children
There is no question that having a parent who doesn’t show up for visitation can be emotionally damaging for children. It is hard for a kid of any age not to internalize the rejection that comes with a parent not arriving for their scheduled parenting time. Such disappointment and rejection can be hard enough when it happens once, but when it happens over and over, the child will inevitably start to think it is their fault that their parent doesn’t want to come.
Abandonment and rejection can cause emotional damage. The destabilization of their schedule can also cause issues for children and parents alike. You can’t make arrangements for your own career or medical needs if you never know when you will be child-free.
Asking for a custody modification can make sense for your family if your ex has stopped showing up. A reduction of their parenting time might be enough to motivate them to start showing up for future parenting sessions.