Change in Circumstances Modifications
A common type of post-judgment modification is when one party seeks to change an order that is in the final judgment with regards to child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. In order to do this, you must file a request for a court hearing and show the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the final judgment was entered. There is no set definition as to what qualifies as a change in circumstances. However, there will be different factors taken into account for the various types of family law orders.
Change in Circumstances in Child Custody and Visitation Cases
To successfully request a post-judgment change in child custody and visitation orders, one of the requirements is that there must have been a substantial change in circumstances since the final child custody and visitation orders were made. Exactly what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances can be difficult to determine. However, an experienced Riverside child custody modification attorney can assist you in determining whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred in your case.
Best Interests Standard
While a substantial change in circumstances is necessary to modify an existing child custody order, the court must also consider whether a change in orders is in the best interest of your child. Under California Family Code Section 3011, the court may consider the following factors in determining whether a custodial arrangement is in the best interest of your child:
1. The age of your child
2. The health, safety, and welfare of your child
3. The nature and amount of contact your child has with both parents
4. Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by you or the other parent
5. You and the other parent’s ability to care for your child
6. The duration and adequacy of your child’s living arrangements
7. You child’s involvement in the community
8. The emotional relationship between you and your child, as well as between your child and the other parent; AND
9. Where your child goes to school.
Without a determination that changing the custodial arrangement is in the best interests of your child, it will be very difficult to convince a family law court that the substantial change in circumstances warrants a change in the custodial arrangement.
What Constitutes a Substantial Change in Circumstances?
Family law courts will evaluate many aspects of your child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being in evaluating whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances. You may be able to seek a post-judgment modification of child custody and visitation if any of the following apply to you:
1. The parent with primary physical custody has not sufficiently provided for your child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs
2. The custodial parent frequently relocates. If the parent with primary physical custody relocates frequently, the court may feel as though the child is not being provided with a stable living arrangement
3. You or the other parent have physically moved a significant distance away from the non-custodial parent
4. The other parent is providing an unsafe or unsuitable environment for your child
5. The other parent has developed a drug or alcohol dependency problem
6. The other parent has a new spouse or is living with another person
7. The other parent has lost his or her job or had a significant decrease in income
8. Your child is being abused in any way by the other parent, or someone who is living with the other parent
9. Your child’s age. As your child gets older, your child will be able to have more input in the custodial arrangements
10. The other parent is unable to care for your child due to a physical or mental health condition
Change in Circumstances in Child and Spousal Support Cases
While modifications to child and spousal support orders also require a change in circumstances, the factors used to determine whether a change in circumstances exists are not as demanding as in child custody and visitation cases. California Family Code Sections 4053 and 4320 state that child and spousal support, respectively, shall be ordered according to a guideline calculation. Courts will generally allow a modification to child or spousal support if there has been a change according to the guideline calculations.
Factors Used in Child Support Cases
There are several factors that might change the guideline calculation and thus, would be considered a change in circumstances with regards to child support. You may qualify for a child support modification in Riverside if any of the following apply:
1. The income of one, or both, parents has changed
2. Either you or the other parent is no longer employed
3. Either parent is in jail or prison
4. There has been a change in the amount of time that your child spends with you or the other parent
5. The needs of your child have changed. This can mean that your child requires more, or less, support because costs associated with child care, health care, or education have changed
6. You or the other parent has another child from another relationship
The calculation that is used to determine guideline child support is very complex. If you are seeking a child support modification, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced modifications attorney in Riverside, to ensure that the child support calculations are accurate.
Factors Used in Spousal Support Cases
Like with child support, the courts also use a guideline calculation to determine spousal support. You may qualify for a spousal support modification, or termination, if you or your former spouse has:
1. Experienced a change in income
2. Become unemployed
3. Retired or is unable to work
4. Failed to make reasonable efforts to become self-supporting
5. Experienced a change in expenses, such as for medical care
6. If you or your former spouse is cohabitating with someone of the opposite sex
Although courts use a guideline calculation to determine spousal support, the court has wide discretion to modify or terminate spousal support, based on the details of your case.
Riverside Modification Attorney
Requesting a modification of an existing order based on a change in circumstances without the help of an experienced Riverside family law attorney can be difficult. You need a skilled Wallin & Klarich family law attorney to assist you with your modification to ensure the best possible result in your case. Wallin & Klarich has been helping clients modify existing orders for over 30 years. You can rest assured that we will work hard for you to obtain the modification that you are requesting.
With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Torrance, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Victorville, San Bernardino, and Ventura, Wallin & Klarich will always be available to you wherever you happen to live. To speak with a Wallin & Klarich family law attorney today, please call (888) 749-7428. We will get through this together.