Roseline D. Feral

Modification of Final Judgments

Family Law Attorney Guiding San Diego Residents

A final court order does not mean that it can never be changed. Life is constantly changing, and the law is designed to accommodate major changes. If you have an existing court order related to spousal support, child custody, child support, or child visitation, therefore, you may be able to modify it under certain circumstances. With nearly 30 years of experience, San Diego family law attorney Roseline D. Feral can help Southern California residents pursue a modification of a final judgment.

Seeking to Modify a Court Order Related to Custody, Support, or Visitation

A court order generally remains in effect until another court order modifies it. The parties are free to change the agreement if they mutually agree. If the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, on the other hand, the court may need to make a decision for them. Deliberately disobeying a court order is considered contempt of court. In order to modify an order or judgment, there must have been a “substantial change in circumstances” that is sufficient to justify a modification of the final judgment.

All child custody and visitation determinations are made based on what is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. Both “final” and “permanent” orders may be changed. Child custody orders may be modified in two basic situations: when a parent has violated a court order, and when one or both parents allege changed circumstances. Some common examples of changes in circumstances may include the loss of a job, relocation, the development of an unsuitable environment for children, or drug or alcohol abuse. Typically, the parent who is seeking a modification is responsible for showing why the current arrangement is no longer feasible.

In child support cases, a parent may want to seek a modification if they are not able to pay the amount outlined in the order. This may be possible if the parent has experienced a substantial change in income, the amount of time that the parent spends with the child has significantly changed, or the other parent has experienced a substantial change in income. It is important to note that there are limits when it comes to modifying orders. For instance, a court will not retroactively modify a child support order or make payments that were due before the modification subject to the modification. In other words, you may not withhold payment and then ask the court to retroactively lower past payments that were due. This is why it is important to act quickly. A party seeking a modification of a final judgment should act as soon as a substantial change has occurred so that the order reflects it.

A person who is paying spousal support, meanwhile, may petition the court to change the agreement if one or both spouses experience a significant change in circumstances. You may qualify for such a modification if your former spouse or you have undergone a change in income, have become unemployed, have retired or become unable to work, or have experienced a change in expenses. A modification also may be available if the supported spouse is re-marrying or co-habiting with a new partner. Although courts typically use a guideline calculation to determine spousal support, a court has broad discretion to modify spousal support based on the details of your case.

Contact a San Diego Lawyer When Undergoing a Divorce

If you are seeking a modification of a final judgment, it is important to consult an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you understand the process. Obtaining a modification may be challenging, and having the right attorney on your side may make a dramatic difference in your case. San Diego attorney Roseline D. Feral assists people in cities such as Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Escondido, Ramona, San Marcos, Valley Center, Rancho Santa Fe, and Vista. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 619-232-1010. Alternatively, you may reach out to Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191.