Modifying Current Court Orders
Court orders are not set in stone. California law recognizes that life changes, and it allows modification of court orders under certain circumstances if necessary and proper. There are many good reasons why you may want to modify a custody, child support, or spousal support order.
Modifying Child Custody and Visitation in San Jose
Modifying child custody and visitation orders in San Jose usually takes two forms, either changing the amount of parenting time or the scheduling of time. Changes in the lives of the parents, such as new partners, new homes, moves, or personal life setbacks, could be the impetus for seeking a new order. Additionally, as children get older, their interests and needs evolve, making order modification necessary.
If the parents agree on the modification, they can simply file an agreement in family court. The judge will sign the agreement, and once signed, the agreement will be valid. Coming to an agreement is the least costly and complicated route, but it is still valuable to have the help of a family law attorney to assist negotiations.
If there is not an agreement between the parents, one parent must file papers with the family court. The court will only grant the modification if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was put in place. The reason there must be a significant change is that California believes children should have stable and consistent custody arrangements.
Examples of significant changes include:
- A parent developed or overcame a substance abuse problem,
- There are new child abuse charges,
- The child’s medical or schooling needs changed,
- A parent secured employment,
- A parent’s physical or mental health has improved, or
- A parent moved for work.
Modifying Child Support in San Jose
Generally, a child support order can be modified in San Jose if you can show a change in circumstances. However, you do not need to show a change in circumstances if the amount originally ordered is lower than the child support guideline.
Rather, you can ask to modify the child support at any time. Child support cannot be changed retroactively. The modification will only go into effect after the judge signs the new order.
As with child custody, if the parents can reach an agreement on the modification, they can draft a stipulation and file it with the court. After the judge signs it, the modification will become valid. Even if you have a verbal agreement, it is important to wait until the judge signs the new order before changing the amount of child support.
If the parents do not agree, a parent can ask the court to modify the child support if there has been a change in circumstances. Most often, the court will use the child support guidelines to reevaluate the amount by factoring in the new information. Examples of a change in events that could trigger the court to change a child support order include:
- The income of the parents has changed,
- The parenting time has changed, or
- The financial needs of the child has changed.
Child support will be automatically modified if a parent is incarcerated or institutionalized for more than 90 days. The child support payments will be automatically suspended during this time. After the parent is released, the payments will resume at the same amount they were before incarceration. There are three exceptions to the above rule: 1) the parent has the financial ability to make payments even while in jail or institutionalized, 2) the parent was put in jail or institutionalized because of domestic violence against the other parent or child, or 3) the parent is in jail because he or she failed to pay child support.
Modifying Spousal Support in San Jose
As with child custody and child support, the court can modify spousal support if there has been a change in circumstances. For example, possibly the person receiving support no longer needs it, or perhaps a party is not making a good-faith effort to be self-supporting. Additionally, spousal support ends in California if the spouse receiving support remarries.
A modification can be made either through agreement or by one party filing a motion with the court. It is important to act immediately if a situation arises that makes it necessary for you to modify a spousal support order; a new order is not retroactive and will only be valid from the date the judge signs it.
Your San Jose Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about modifying a court order, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Moreno Family Law Firm. The attorneys at the Moreno Family Law have over 30 years of experience helping residents of San Jose in all types of family law matters. They are tough litigators who will fight for what is best for you. Call Moreno Family Law Firm today at 408-266-9011 for a consultation.