Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton
Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
After your Judgment is final, you may still have the right to modify certain portions of your final divorce decree. One of the most common post-judgment modification may be a Request for Orders to change the amount of child support you pay, or receive based on a changed circumstances. The other most common post-judgment modification is a Request to Modify Custody and/or Visitation.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT
Since child support is primarily based on the relative income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the child or children, whenever there is a change in circumstances regarding any of these factors, the amount of guideline child support will necessarily change.
If you have experienced a decrease in income since your child support order was made, you must file a Request for Order to change the amount of child support you pay. If you do not, you are legally obligated to continue paying the same amount of child support. If you do not pay the court-ordered amount of child support, you will incur interest on any unpaid amounts. Further, child support arrears will continue to accrue and is not dischargeable in Bankruptcy.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD MODIFY MY CHILD SUPPORT ORDER?
- Change in income of either party: Has your income changed since the last court order was made? Has the other parent’s income changed since the last court order was made?
- Change in timeshare: Are you spending more time with your children since the last court order was made? Is the other parent spending less time with the children since the last court order was made?
- Child Care Costs: Does your Order provide for the other parent to pay for one-half of the child care expenses?
- Extracurricular Activities/Summer Camp: Does your Order provide for the other parent to pay for one-half of the extracurricular activities and summer camp?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably need to modify your child support order.
A Court Order for child support will remain the same unless one parent files a Request for Order to change it. An order for child support can only be modified by filing the proper paperwork with the Court and serving it on the other party. A court hearing will be set, and both parties will be able to present evidence of the changed circumstances warranting a modification of the child support order.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
As your child grows, it may be appropriate to modify the custody and visitation orders contained in your Final Judgment. You have a legal right to ask the Court to increase your timeshare. You may have already worked out a parenting plan with the other parent which provides you with more time. If that is the case, then you need to formalize your agreement with the Court. It is not enough that you and the other parent have an informal understanding about custody and visitation–you must modify the Court Orders. This can be done in one of two ways: you can hire a family law attorney to draft a Stipulation and Proposed Order setting forth the agreement you already informally have with the other parent. In such cases, no additional court appearance is necessary. However, if either party will not agree to put the “new” custodial plan in writing, then you must file a Request for Order to Modify Child Custody and set forth the facts necessary to ask the Court to change the prior custody and visitation orders.