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Modifying Divorce, Child Custody and Child Support Orders in San Diego County

Life constantly changes in the years after a family law matter is resolved and, as a result, earlier support or custody orders may no longer suit your family's needs. A significant change in circumstances may make existing child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support orders unworkable. Whether you are in San Diego or the surrounding communities, Shaffer & Associates can help you understand your options under California law for post-judgment modification, and we can assist you through every step of the process.  

What Kinds of Divorce or Child Custody Orders Can a California Court Change?

After a divorce or other family law proceeding is concluded, a California court can modify your divorce decree or other orders based on changed circumstances. Aspects of the order that may need to be modified include:

  • Child Support. A child's needs may change as he or she grows. One parent may experience employment changes or illness, leading to decreased income. Parents may realize that their child is spending substantially more time with one parent than the parenting time order indicates, and the amount of support needs to change accordingly. In any of these common scenarios, the state guidelines that determine how much child support is appropriate can be used to recalculate the parents' child support obligations.
  • Spousal Support. Spousal support awards attempt to anticipate the future, but unexpected events may render an existing award unfair. A recipient of spousal support may fall ill and be unable to support him- or herself as anticipated. A payor may have less income than expected with which to pay support due to injury, disability, or job loss. Under these circumstances, a court may change the amount or duration of a spousal support or alimony award.
  • Child Custody. When one parent moves or a child’s needs change, child custody or parenting time modifications are often required.  Sometimes parents realize that the parenting schedule they've settled into does not match the schedule set forth in their custody order, and they want to change the order to reflect reality. Modification may also be appropriate if one parent is concerned about the child's safety with the other parent. The court can modify both legal and physical custody as appropriate. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Change a Divorce, Child Custody or Support Order?

California law governs when you can make changes to a preexisting divorce, child custody, or support judgment or order. If there is no agreement between parties to modify an existing order, an experienced family law attorney can advise you about the legal standards you have to meet to achieve an order from a court modifying the prior order. 

For instance, to change child custody without the agreement of your child's other parent, you have to show that there has been a "significant change in circumstances," and that a different custody arrangement would better serve your child's best interests.  An experienced family law attorney will help you apply this law to your case and discuss the best way to present your request to the court and achieve your goals.

When money is involved—as when you are seeking to increase or decrease alimony or child support payments—a good question to ask yourself is whether the money you could save through a favorable decision by the court will justify the fees an attorney will charge to assist you. In many cases, an experienced attorney's knowledge of the law and the California courts will save you significant time and money in the long run. 

At Shaffer & Associates, we will consult with you to discuss your particular situation and concerns, and we will advise you regarding your options and how best to achieve your desired results.  

Consult an Experienced San Diego Attorney

If you need an experienced San Diego family law attorney who will listen to your unique situation and advocate diligently for your rights and interests, contact Shaffer & Associates.  Contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to discuss modifying the terms of your final judgment of divorce or support or custody orders. We serve San Diego County and the surrounding communities, including Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County.

San Diego Bar AssociationSection of Family LawCalifornia State Bar Family Law American Bar Association Avvo Clients' Choice 2014