Post-Judgment Modifications

A person may modify a judgment after the dissolution is complete. The law surrounding post-judgment modifications has recently changes and is about to change once again. Starting January 1, 2015, post-judgment modification will soon be as complex as the proceedings that produces the original judgment.

A change in circumstances is required to modify an order. Judges do not want to retry the same issues with the same facts and circumstances as before. What constitutes a “change in circumstances” is not always clear.

Whether you opposing another person’s request to modify an existing order, or you wish to modify an existing order, it is best to consult with an attorney.  

After dissolution, California court maintains jurisdiction of issues of custody, visitation, and support. The court may modify custody, visitation, or support orders after a final judgment in your divorce. Parties may modify current court orders by agreement, or if parents to not agree to a change, one parent may request changes be made to the current custody, visitation, or support orders.

Prior to 2007 testimony regarding modifications of orders did not occur except in "unusual circumstances.” The courts took under submissions the declaration of each parent only and base its decision solely on those documents. Such a process takes about 6-weeks to complete. However, this has now changed. Either parent may request an evidentiary/testimonial hearing “mini-trial”. Such trials can last hours to days.

Modification of Custody

You can seek a modification of child custody and visitation orders if there is a "significant change of circumstances" to support the request. The court may modify the standing custody and visitation order if it is the child[ren]’s best interest In an emergency, a parent may request to modify a custody order temporarily quickly.

Modification of Spousal Support

The court can modify spousal support orders, unless the parties agreed otherwise and removed the court’s jurisdiction to alter spousal support. 

Either spouse or domestic partners may request a change in the current support order if there is a "change in circumstances" since the original order. This means something significant has changed since the original support order was made. A “change in circumstances” may include a remarriage or cohabitation with another; the supported spouse no longer needs support; or the supporting spouse has had a significant drop in income.

If the spouses or domestic partners can agree on a new amount of spousal or partner support, a judge will usually sign the agreement and it will become a new court order. If the spouses or domestic partners cannot agree, the person wanting the change must file a motion with the court asking for a "modification" of the spousal/partner support amount.

Modification of Property Division

All issues relating to division of property are not subject to modification. However, sometimes, the court on its own, or by agreement of each person, retains jurisdiction over property