Under California law, certain orders may be modified after a final judgment. Three of the most common areas for modifications include child custody/visitation orders, child support orders, and spousal support orders.
Under California law, certain orders may be modified after a final judgment.
The court will not modify property divisions, but even those judgments can be rescinded if a set-aside motion is brought on statutorily prescribed grounds and within statutorily prescribed time limits [Ca Civ Pro § 473(b) or Ca Fam § 2120 et seq.].
Modification of Custody or Support Orders
- Child Custody/Visitation Orders may be modified whenever the court finds it “necessary and proper” in the child’s best interests [Ca Fam § 3022]. Typically, a parent must show a “significant change of circumstances” to support this modification.
- Child Support Orders may be modified “at any time as the court deems necessary,” as per the mandatory statewide child support guidelines. This is true even if the parties have agreed that support will not be modified.
- Spousal Support Orders may be changed throughout the support period, with the exception of amounts accrued before the filing of an Application of Modification. However, unlike child support, the court’s continuing power to modify or end spousal support depends on the court order. Post-judgment spousal support is limited by the order’s stated time frame, unless jurisdiction to award support has been reserved [Ca Fam §§ 3603, 3651(c), 4333, 4335].
- Family Support Orders may be split into separate orders for child and spousal support when a change of circumstances justifies increased child support.