A judgment is presumed to be a final custody determination after either a
contested trial or by stipulation. The purpose of a judgment is to bring a sense
of finality to the custody aspect of the case after perhaps a series of pendente
lite (pending litigation) visitation schedules that have been explored. However,
some judgments are drafted to take into considerations certain future changes
(children reaching a certain age, a parent moving etc.). These judgments are
referred to as non-Montenegro vs. Diaz orders and have a different set of rules for
modification. Finally, some judgments are specifically referred to as
"Montenegro vs. Diaz" orders which follow the same rules as judgments that are
presumed to be final.
To modify a Montenegro vs. Diaz order or a judgment that is presumed to be a
final order requires a showing of a "Substantial Change in Circumstances". That
is showing a change that the existing schedule is is detrimental to the health,
safety or welfare of the children. Examples of this could be that one of the parents are moving or perhaps the child is not thriving on school or the perhaps a parent has re-married and the person they are with is a perpetrator of domestic violence. The analysis is factually driven and it is well advised to consult an experienced attorney to determine if your case meets this criteria. In the alternative, if your case is not a permanent order, only a showing that the new schedule would be in the child's best interest is required. A common example of this would be the change in the parent's work schedule.
It is imperative to obtain a final judgment so that the visitation schedule you arrive at will remain the permanent order of the court absent a substantial change. If you have any questions or would like to discuss either obtaining a permamnet order or modifying a permanent order, contact Covina attorney, Paul A. Eads today.