Requesting Changes in Custody, Child Support, or Spousal Support
The only constant in life is change. These changes in life circumstances and the lives of your children may warrant a post-decree modification of divorce orders. This can include the following:
- Enforcement or “Contempt Action”
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
If a former spouse is not complying with the orders of the Court, it may be necessary to file a “contempt action” with the Court. This can be a result from either the failure to keep visitation schedules, issues with support payments, or other expenses related to the child or spousal support.
In California, “Contempt” occurs when a person engages in any of the scenarios listed below:
- Is aware that a court order exists.
- Had the capacity or ability to comply with the original order, and knowingly chose not to comply.
- Has no valid reason or excuse for failing to comply.
Post – Decree Modifications of Child Custody or Support Orders
There are multiple reasons for requesting a modification to child custody or child support orders. San Diego area Courts look for a “substantial change in circumstances” of one or both of the parties. These can include a significant change in income or the loss of a job, relocation, illness, or the welfare of the child. If both spouses were employed at the time of the termination of the marriage, and one loses their job, this may be considered a “substantial change” requiring modification in the existing child support orders.
A substantial increase in income and quality of living may justify a request of the court to increase child visitation and parenting time. If there are issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, neglect or issues of safety, a Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed to study the issue and make recommendations for modification that the Court will agree to hear. Other issues can include significant changes in the child’s behavior at school and academic performance, interference of visitation and parenting time, or health concerns. It is a myth that an older child may request to change parental residence. This is not considered a just cause for a modification request. The wishes of the minor may be considered by the Court, but are not enough on their own to warrant a modification.
Post – Decree Modifications of Spousal Support in California
Modification of spousal support in San Diego can be a complicated matter. Usually, the original order for spousal support is based upon the length of the marriage and the financial circumstances and lifestyle of the parties. In most cases, the original divorce decree will contain language that either gives the Court continuing jurisdiction over the matter, or prohibits any changes to the original orders after the decree is issued.
If the Court maintained jurisdiction, or ordered one of the parties to become “independent and self-sustaining”, post decree spousal support modifications may be requested. Even if the language of the original agreement prohibits changes, there is California case law that may establish an opportunity to seek modification if the change in circumstances was not taken into consideration by either of the parties or the original Court at the time of the prior order.
Contact an Experienced Certified Law Specialist to Modify Your Support Orders or Divorce Decree
These are complex matters, and it is best to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced California Certified Family Law Specialist.