Post Judgment Enforcement & Modification
For most, a final Judgment or divorce signifies the end of a long battle they never wanted to fight. But is a case really ever over? That depends on whether there are children and issues of child support or alimony involved.
Child custody and visitation can be modified post judgment at any time. If a parent seeks a custody modification after a final custody judgment, that parent seeking the change must show there has been a significant change in circumstances since the final order. However, where a parent doesn’t wish to necessarily change custody but only wants to modify the visitation schedule, it is generally not necessary to show a significant change.
Simply demonstrating to the Court that the visitation schedule should change because that change is consistent with the children’s best interest is sufficient. What types of issues cause a change in modification? The list is long but the most common ones are one parent not spending the court ordered time with the children, physical or emotional abuse, parental alienation, drug or alcohol abuse, a change in the residence of one parent or a proposed move away by a parent with the children.
Child support can also be modified at any time after a Judgment is entered so long as a change in circumstances can be shown. Anytime one or both parent’s incomes change (up or down) or the time one parent spends with the children goes up or down and stays there, a parent may seek a modification of child support. Does that mean a parent should jump into Family Court the moment there is a change? Not necessarily.
So much of that decision depends on whether the change in income or time share is temporary or not. A parent who occasionally misses a visitation, especially if that parent makes up the time, should not have to defend a modification request. A slight reduction or increase in income also often does not justify a post judgment modification request. Family Law judges don’t like seeing child support modification requests unless the change that has taken place is significant and not temporary.
Some divorce judgments that were agreed upon by the spouses make alimony unmodifiable. However, most alimony awards can be modified. Unlike child support, alimony modifications are not as simple or straightforward as many think. The computer program that sets child support and temporary alimony does not apply to post judgment modifications. The Court is required to look at the 13 factors of Family Code section 4320, among other things, and it is critical that you seek the advice of our experienced San Diego support attorneys before undertaking a spousal support modification or defending a request for modification by your ex-spouse.
It is uncommon for property divisions to be modified unless the agreement allows for modification or certain circumstances have occurred that mandate it as a matter of law. Since post judgment property modifications can be complex, advice from our experienced San Diego divorce attorneys should be your first priority. Call us today to see how we can help.