What Does the term “Modification” mean in Riverside County, California?
A modification is a request to change an existing court order. In family law, it means that one of the parties is requesting to change some sort of an order. Orders can be modified before or after a judgment was entered. The term “modification” simply means that a previous court order was made and now one of the parties is asking the court to make changes to that court order. A family law modification can be requested for any of the following case types:
- A request to change an order made in a divorce case
- A request to change an order made in a legal separation case
- A request to change an order made in a domestic violence case
- A request to change an order made in a paternity case
What Types of Orders can be Modified?
Not all orders are modifiable in a California family law case, especially once a final judgment has been entered. The most common types of family law cases that are modified include:
- Modification of Child Custody or Visitation
- Modification of Child Support
- Modification of Spousal Support
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule and would require the help of a skilled attorney to advise you. If you have a court order that you believe should be modified, contact our office for a consultation.
Modification of Child Custody or Visitation
Child custody refers to each parent’s right to make decisions. Visitation refers to the time the child spends with each parent. California courts have a strong public policy to maintain stability for children. Child custody can be modified in a divorce, a legal separation, domestic violence, or in a paternity case.
It is the court’s philosophy that children have a right to spend significant time with each parent. For this reason, once a child custody order is made, it is difficult to change. Some of the reasons a child custody order may be modified are:
- Change one parent’s residence
- Change in one parent’s work schedule
- Change in the child’s work schedule
- Danger to the child due to domestic violence by one of the parents
- Danger to the child due to parent’s mental illness
- Danger to the child due to a parent’s drug or alcohol problem
- Danger to the child due to abuse or neglect
- One parent’s inability to co-parent with the other
- One parent’s refusal to follow the visitation order
- Inability by one parent to pick up or drop of the child at school
- Wishes of the child
Wishes of the child
Parents frequently want to know, “When can my child choose” where he or she wants to live? There is no magic age. There are times that the court will take a child’s wishes into consideration, however, the court does not need to follow them. It is the court’s primary responsibility to determine the best interest of your child. As a parent, you recognize that what is best for your child may not always be what he or she wants.
In Riverside County, courts have established procedures for allowing a child’s voice to be heard. This includes such things as an expert, or even the judge, interviews your child to determine what he or she wants and why.
Whether or not the court will follow the wishes of the child depends upon a number of factors, these include, but are not limited to:
- The child’s age
- The child’s maturity level
- The reason for the child’s desired custody order
- The child’s grades
- The child’s responsibility level
- The child’s behavior in each parent’s home
- The child’s special needs
- Whether the child was coached by one parent
- Allegations made by the child against one of the parents
The court must make provisions to allow a child who is age 14 or older to express his or her wishes to the court. This is no guarantee the court will follow the child’s wishes. The court will weigh the child’s reasons for wanting to change against the child’s need to know and spend time with each parent.
Do I Need an Attorney for File for a Modification of Child Custody?
A skilled attorney can provide a compelling argument to the court as to why a change in custody is necessary. For this reason, whenever a parent is requesting a change of custody, it is recommended the parent obtain an attorney. Your child is an investment. Why would you gamble on your child’s future by scrimping on attorney fees? If you want to maximize your chances of modification custody, it is essential that you hire competent counsel. For more information as to how to change custody, please call our office for a consultation.
Modification of Child Support
In Temecula, California, child support can be modified at any time so long as it is in the children’s best interest to do so. Child custody can be modified in a divorce, a legal separation, domestic violence, or in a paternity case. Once an initial court order for child support has been made, there are a multitude of reasons which would constitute a reason to modify child support, these include:
- A parent’s income has increased
- A parent’s income has decreased
- A parent becomes disabled
- A parent has lost his/her job
- A parent obtained new employment
- A parent sees the child more than previously ordered
- A parent sees the child less than previously ordered
- The child goes to live with the other parent
- The child develops special needs
- The child graduates from high school
- Day costs have increased or decreased
- The parent paying support was incarcerated
Sometimes, a child support order can be modified simply because it is too old. Child support orders do not include a cost of living increase. Over time, each parent’s incomes will increase and orders made several years ago will need to be readjusted periodically. If you believe that you qualify for a modification of child support, please call our office so we can help.
Modification of Spousal Support in Temecula, California
In California, spousal support orders can usually- but not always- be changed. Spousal support can be ordered and in a divorce, a legal separation, or domestic violence case. Spousal support orders that might be modifiable include “initial,” “temporary,” and “permanent” orders. Each type of support is calculated differently.
For instance, “initial” spousal support orders might be calculated using only one party’s income and be set at a very high amount. This is typically done with the expectation that spousal support will decrease after a very short period of time.
“Temporary” spousal support may be slightly reduced from the “initial” orders, but still at a high rate for the payor of spousal support. Courts in Riverside County, California, typically do this to allow the supported spouse some time to get a job, adjust to being single, and help him or her get on their feet financially.
“Permanent” support is typically a lower number and goes for a much longer period of time. It is anticipated that it will be ordered for a long enough duration that the supported spouse will be able to become self-supporting.
All types of spousal support can generally be modified. Reasons why a spousal support order should be changed include:
- Change in income of the payor spouse
- Change in income of the supported spouse
- Cohabitation of the supported spouse
- Remarriage of the supported spouse
- Retirement of the payor spouse
- Loss of job of the payor spouse
- Inheritance by the supported spouse
- Completion of education or training by the supported spouse
- Any factor that results in a decreased income of the payor spouse
- Any factor that results in a decreased need for support by the supported spouse
Do I Need an Attorney for File for a Modification of Spousal Support?
Spousal support is a complicated area of law in California, and requires a court trial to change. A skilled attorney is required to be able to present the proper facts and argument to the court. Whenever one party is requesting a change of spousal support it is imperative you hire the right attorney. Think of it as an investment. If the attorney is going to increase your monthly income or reduce your monthly expenses over many years, the lawyer’s fees are a small price to pay. For more information as to how to change spousal support in Riverside County, including in the cities of Temecula, Corona, Vista, or Murrieta, California, please call our office for a consultation.