Certain orders are modifiable by the California courts after a final judgment in your divorce has been made. The most common areas for post-judgment order modification include child custody/visitation orders, child support orders, and spousal support orders.
Modification of Child Custody/Visitation Orders
You can seek a modification of child custody and visitation orders at any time. The court may find the modification “necessary or proper” if it’s in the child’s best interest (Ca Fam § 3022).
The parent who seeks the child custody modification needs to show the court a “significant change of circumstances” to support the request.
You can seek a modification of child custody and visitation orders at any time.
As a practical matter, many parents seek to change custody without showing a significant change of circumstances, or a change is facilitated by the parent or lawyer to justify the request. Some common bases for seeking a change of custody include:
- The non-custodial parent’s work schedule changed
- The non-custodial parent moved closer to the other parent
- The child’s parental preference changed
- One parent is being irresponsible, such as not getting the child to school on time, has substance abuse issues, etc.
- A parent wants to re-locate outside of the geographic area where the child resides, called a “move away case”
If you believe that your child should spend more time with you, or less time with the other parent, consult your attorney to discuss the validity of your case.
Child Support Orders Modification
At any time the court deems necessary, child support orders can be modified in spite of parental requests. There are mandatory California child support guidelines, and if any of these factors change, child support may be modified.
Spousal Support Modification
Spousal support is modifiable until the end of the support period. Amounts accrued prior to filing the application for modification are static. Unlike child support, spousal support can only be modified based on the court order terms, unless jurisdiction to award support has been reserved.
Spousal support duration is limited by the order [Ca Fam §§ 3603, 3651(c), 4333, 4335]. Spousal support modification is very complicated and discussed in detail in the Modification of Spousal Support section.
Family Support Modification
Family support combines both child and spousal support into one combined amount to save tax money. If circumstances change enough to justify a modification, a family support order can be changed or separate orders for child and spousal support may be issued.
Property division adjudicated by the final judgment in your divorce may not be modified by the court. However, it’s possible for a judgment to be rescinded in a set-aside motion under Ca Civ Pro § 473(b) or Ca Fam § 2120 et seq. If an asset has not been disclosed and you learn about it after the divorce, you may be able to seek the division of a non-disclosed asset.
Read more about property division in the Who Gets to Stay in the Home and Does It Matter? section.