Ask a Family Attorney – Post Divorce Modifications
So you survived the rigorous and complex process of completing your divorce case. You have final orders on all issues—some issues settled, perhaps some issues were decided by the judge, but you got through it and you have a judgment of divorce in your hands. You’re done with family court right? Not necessarily. The family court retains jurisdiction over many of the issues related to your recently dissolved martial relationship until long after your family law judge declared you a single person.
After a divorce has been finalized, either party can request that the family court make additional orders on the following issues:
- Modification of child support and additional orders related to the support of children such as payment of medical expenses, school related expenses, child care and extracurricular expenses.
- Modification or termination of spousal support.
- Modification of child custody and child visitation orders.
- Division of property or debts not divided during the divorce.
- Sanctions for bad faith behavior during the divorce such as failure to disclose assets.
- Contempt of court for willful violations of prior known orders.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
- Request to vacate (throw out) the entire final settlement or court ruling for good cause.
Many of these “post judgment motions” require that a certain threshold be met prior to the family court considering the request. For instance, prior to a motion to modify child custody can be heard, the party requesting the modification must demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances relevant to the issue of child custody that would warrant a modification to the prior order. This change in circumstances could be directly or indirectly related to the child so long as the change in circumstance could potentially influence the Court to change the co-parenting plan. Some examples might be: a change to a parent’s work schedule, the child moving from pre-school or daycare to parochial school, or unfortunately in some cases, one parent’s involvement in illegal activity or abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Post judgment motions related to spousal support and child support orders are especially important to understand—especially for the party paying the support. There are legal limitations regarding the modification of child and spousal support orders which allow the family court to modify a support order only back to the date that a request to modify is filed. The old order, which if you lost your job you can no longer afford to pay, continues to accrue whether you can afford to pay or not. The only current exception to this rule is in the case of incarceration. An incarcerated obligor of a support order may obtain relief from an order for child support dating back to the date of incarceration so long as he or she does not have an alternate source of funds from which to pay child support.
If you have been served with a post judgment motion or wish to evaluate whether or not you should file a post judgment motion it is important that you talk to a qualified San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call at 858-345-1720 and you will be directed to one of our experienced family law attorneys for a free phone consultation on the day that you call.