At the end of your family law case, the judge enters an order and you’re bound to comply with it. But as time goes on, your life can change. People change jobs, get remarried, kids grow up, and people want to relocate. Big changes like these can make it hard – or even impossible – to follow existing court orders that cover things like child support, alimony and visitation. To deal with situations like these, you’ll need the help of a qualified San Diego attorney who can ask the court to modify the existing order with post-decree modifications.
Kaspar & Lugay, LLP helps people seek post-decree modifications of child support orders, child custody arrangements and spousal support orders, as well as most other family law-related orders. We offer a free initial consultation at our San Diego office and you can contact us anytime to arrange a meeting.
When Can Family Court Orders be Modified?
If your original case was resolved through litigation, California law allows you to request modification of existing orders when one or both parties experience a “substantial change in circumstances” that affects their ability to comply with the order. Many life events can qualify as a “substantial change,” such as:
- A significant increase or decrease in your income or your ex’s income
- Your child’s health or your health has changed and health care costs are now more concerning
- A parent’s work schedule has changed so the existing custody arrangement no longer works
- One parent wants to move away from San Diego
- There is a drug or alcohol problem that puts your child at risk
- Allegations of domestic violence or child abuse have arisen
- A parent is failing to execute their custody obligations by getting the child to school late, causing the child to miss activities, etc.
If your original case was resolved through mediation, the court may allow modification for essentially any change in circumstance. In other words, mediated agreements are usually easier to modify.
Modifying Child Custody and Visitation Schedules in San Diego
In addition to showing how your circumstances have changed, you will need to prove to the court that your proposed modifications of child custody is necessary and proper to serve your child’s best interests.
For example, if you want to move out of San Diego with your child, your simple desire to do so will not be enough for a court to grant modification. You will need to explain why your move would be in the best interest of your child, not just something that you want to do. That can be difficult because the law presumes that children are best served by having regular contact with both parents and your moving away will reduce contact with the other parent. Now, if you are moving because you landed a very high paying job that could give the child a better standard of living, that is one circumstance where modification might be granted.
Modifications of Financial Support Orders – Child Support and Spousal Support
Both child support and spousal support may be modified under certain circumstances.
Your original child support amount was calculated using the financial picture that existed at the time. Since then, you or your ex may have lost a job, saw your income reduced or had other things arise in life that mean less money is available. Either parent – the one who pays child support or the one who receives it – can request modification. You’ll need to show the court that there is a good reason to modify child support. You can provide proof in the form of pay stubs, bank statements and other financial documents that illustrate how your financial situation has changed.
If your divorce included alimony payments, you can request modification or termination of those payments when circumstances warrant. The court can modify the duration of support, the amount of support, or both:
- Duration: Imagine your initial spousal support order required three years of payments with the expectation that it would take that long for the recipient spouse to find gainful employment. If the recipient gets a job faster than that, or perhaps gets a large inheritance, the paying spouse could petition to modify or terminate support. Similarly, the recipient spouse could petition to extend support if he/she made good faith efforts to get a job but couldn’t.
- Amount: The amount of support can be modified as financial circumstances change. For example, if the paying spouse retires, he/she will have less income and the court could then lower the payment amount. But, if the paying spouse suddenly gains a lot of wealth, such as winning the lottery, that doesn’t automatically mean the recipient spouse is entitled to modification.
Discuss Modifications with our San Diego Attorneys
Whether you need to seek modification or want to challenge a modification request by your ex, the team at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP is here to help. Our San Diego family lawyers can help you present your case in the best possible light. To get started, call 415-366-3253 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.