Divorce Modification

Modification of Post Divorce Orders

A California divorce settlement will include multiple orders that outline child custody and visitation requirements as well as child and spousal support.  Post-divorce orders can be modified based on requests from either spouse to make a change.  Each type of order has specific modification guidelines that must be met before filing.

Modification of Child Custody and Visitation Orders

Either spouse can request a modification to a child custody order or a visitation order.  Requests can be submitted as soon as needed.  The primary deciding factor the court uses when deciding on this type of modification is whether the change is in the best interest of the child (Ca Fam § 3022).

To obtain a modification to a child custody order, the parent must prove there has been a major change in circumstances that impact the custody order.

It is not uncommon for a parent to request a modification to a custody order without having sufficient documentation that supports the change in circumstance to warrant the modified order.  Typical reasons that parents seek custody modifications include:

  • The work schedule of either parent has changed and the parents need to revise the visitation or custody arrangement
  • The non-custodial parent now lives closer to the child and seeks more visitation or custody rights
  • The child prefers to live with the non-custodial parent
  • The child is being harmed by a parent who is not taking care of the child or making sure the child gets to school because of the parent’s poor health, substance abuse problem, or mental health issues
  • The custodial parent wants to relocate and take the child with them so they need a move away order to change custody and visitation arrangements

Parents have a clear sense of what is best for their children.  If you want more time with your child or believe the other parent is a bad influence on the child, a family law attorney can review your case to see if a child custody order modification is a possible solution for you.

Modification of Child Support Orders

Parents can request modification to child support orders based on changes in income.  However, the court also has the discretion to modify child support orders at any time regardless of parental input.  California law dictates how child support is calculated and courts can modify orders to meet legal requirements.

Modification of Spousal Support

It is possible to modify spousal support payments and conditions at any point in time.  However, modification is limited to the terms included in the original order by the court.

Spousal support must continue as long as indicated in the order.  Payments are not required beyond that point.  The process involved in modifying a spousal support order is complex.  It is outlined in the Modification of Spousal Support section of the California family law [Ca Fam §§ 3603, 3651(c), 4333, 4335].

Modification in Family Support

If you are not familiar with family support, it is nothing more than the combination of child and spousal support into one case.  It is possible to modify family support if there are significant changes in circumstances.  The order itself can be modified or the court can issue separate child and spousal support orders.

Modification of Property Division

A modification in the division of property is not possible.  It is not an actual order but rather a judgment related to your divorce.  If you want to make changes in the division of property, the original judgment will have to be rescinded by the judge.  You will need to file a set-aside request to make this happen.  This typically occurs when one spouse learns about a previously undisclosed asset after the divorce is finalized.

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