San Fernando Valley Modification Lawyers
Modifying Your Divorce Decree
It is possible to modify the terms of your divorce agreement or legal separation. Circumstances often change. You can work with an attorney to address these issues and reach an agreement that better suits you and your children.
You may have gotten laid off, a promotion, or you may have switched careers entirely. You or your spouse may want to move away. The needs of your child or children may have changed dramatically. Whatever the situation, pursuing a modification may be the best thing you can do for yourself and for your family. It is important to make sure you conduct this process correctly, and an attorney can assist you with this.
Grounds for Modifications
The typical requirement to seek and obtain a post-judgment modification is a significant or substantial change in circumstances. This change would need to be such that your current divorce agreement is impractical or perhaps impossible. In California, you may be able to alter your agreement concerning spousal support, visitation, child custody, or child support. However, you will need to prove to the court that the alteration is necessary due to the change in circumstance. This is where an attorney will be most useful.
If you are interested in pursuing a post-divorce modification, an experienced lawyer can effectively represent your interests to the court in order to give you the best opportunity at a modification that suits your current needs.
The following are examples of some situations which may warrant a modification:
- Dramatic change in income due to job loss or demotion
- Extensive medical bills
- Ongoing medical condition or serious injury
- The remarriage of a spouse
- A parent with a new job or new schedule
- A parent is moving or has already moved out of state
- Abuse or other wrongful conduct
- Continued noncompliance with current visitation or custody agreements
- A significant change in the child's medical or educational needs
- The emancipation of a child
At times, it can be difficult to prove that the change in circumstances is significant enough to merit a post-judgment modification. With the right representation, however, you can seek the change you need.
Types of Post-Divorce Modifications
Unexpected changes are a part of life and you may find that you are now in a situation where this ruling no longer suits your particular situation. Fortunately, you can seek a post-judgment modification. A modification will mean that the court will adjust the amount of child support or spousal support paid or alter the agreement or schedule concerning child custody or visitation. These modifications are a necessary part of family law proceedings and can serve to support your family’s wellbeing.
It does not matter whether a lawyer at our firm represented you in your original divorce or separation. We can review your original agreement, compare this to your current situation and develop a legal strategy that will represent your best interests as we seek a modification.
Modifying Child Custody
The original agreement or court judgment that set child custody and visitation arrangements can be modified. Your attorney will need to prove that there was a substantial change in circumstances and that it is in the best interests of your child or children to modify the agreements.
Some examples of what might qualify as a substantial change in circumstances include:
- The custodial parent deciding to move away, particularly out of state
- A substantial change in the lifestyle of one of the parents, such as a new work schedule
- Suspected domestic violence, sexual abuse, or neglect
While your visitation agreement may have worked at the time of your divorce, you may have found that a change in circumstance has created the necessity to change your schedule or rights. A visitation modification may be the answer.
There are numerous reasons a parent may find it necessary to seek a visitation modification:
- A parent is moving or has moved out of state
- A parent has a new job or new job schedule
- A parent has been convicted of a crime
- Abuse or other wrongful conduct has been occurring
- Repeated failure to comply with visitation agreements
Such as in any modification, a “significant change in circumstances” is necessary. The modification must also be deemed “necessary and proper” and in the best interests of the child. This is covered under California Family Law Section 3022. To seek a modification, you and your lawyer must show that the change is significant enough to require a change in your current visitation agreement. You must also prove that this change will benefit your child or children.
Child Support Modification
You may qualify to request a modification of child support in order to reach a new agreement that works better. In these matters, it is important that your lawyer carefully reviews your original child support judgment and talks to you about your current situation in order to effectively represent your interests. This will give you a better chance at a successful modification that will resolve your problems in this regard.
Some of the common reasons for a child support modification in California include a significant change in the child’s educational or medical needs; a significant change in a parent’s ability to pay child support, including job loss, injury, illness, and more; the child becomes emancipated; or the custodial parent remarries.
How to Request a Child Support Modification
If you can prove that you are not able to pay the support, then the court may consider giving you a modification which will lessen the amount that you are required to pay.
In order to request this legal action, you will first need to obtain child support modification forms from the clerk of the divorce court where your marriage was dissolved. You will also need four forms, the FL_390 Motion for Simplified Modification of Order and the FL-392, Responsive Declaration to Motion of Simplified Modification. In addition you will want to pick up an FL-150 income and expense declaration and an FL-155 simplified financial statement form. After you have all of these forms you should ask the court clerk to schedule a hearing date for the modification request. You’ll need to enter the hearing date on each of the forms so make sure to confirm the date before you leave the courthouse.
With the help of an attorney, you will want to fill out all forms completely and declare the amount that you want to modify your child support to. You will need to make sure that you qualify for a modification. When filling out the financial form, you should include three of your most recent pay stubs and your most recent W-2 form. After you have made copies of all completed forms, you will want to return the originals that are now filled out to the court clerk. You will also want a second copy which you will need to mail or deliver by hand to the other parent and you will want to provide another copy to your local child support agency.
You may also want to keep a copy of the paperwork for yourself because you will want it in front of you at your hearing. After you have completed the paperwork process, all that is left to do is to attend your previously scheduled hearing on the scheduled date. You will want to be sure to take copies of financial data that will help the court to better understand your financial circumstances and see why it is that you are in need of a modification. With the right lawyer on your side, chances are that you will be able to argue effectively and prove why you need to lessen the amount that you are paying.
Modification of Alimony/Spousal Support
In today’s struggling economy, it is no surprise that many Californians have been laid off, are having trouble finding work, or are earning less money. Our firm is experienced in representing clients who need to seek a spousal support or alimony modification. Most of the cases we take on involve clients who are not making as much money as they used to. They may have become seriously ill or injured or may be unemployed because they were laid off. We are experienced in representing clients in all types of circumstances which may warrant a spousal support modification, including an increase, decrease, or termination.
We can review your particular case to determine what we can do to assist you in altering the amount of spousal support that you are required to pay, or that you receive. You are likely seeking a modification so you can remedy a problem you are having with spousal support, so it is important to help ensure the outcome you reach is truly beneficial for you and your family.
Why Hire a Post-Divorce Modification Attorney?
Working with a skilled legal professional is important for any family law matter, particularly those involving the dissolution of a marriage. After a divorce, it is only natural that some situation may change and a modification may be necessary. A post-divorce modification can give a parent or ex-spouse the freedom they need to alter the terms of their original agreement.
Working with an attorney can ensure that the process of modification goes smoothly and is effective.
Because this may be an emotionally charged matter and also involves your future and the future of your children, the outcome of your post-judgment modification is crucial. An attorney will have an objective point of view and will be able to use specific knowledge and experience about this field to address your modification in a timely fashion and while with your best interests in view.
A San Fernando Valley modification lawyer at Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law can talk to you about your particular divorce agreement and determine whether your change in circumstances may qualify you for a post-judgment modification. Our firm can then assist you and represent your interests through the entire modification process, working to help you get the outcome you are looking to achieve. We represent clients throughout Southern California.
Your initial consultation is free, and we will take the time to fully understand your concerns so we can appropriately address your case. Call (818) 839-2533 to schedule an appointment.