After a divorce has been finalized, it may be necessary to modify certain terms of the agreement. This may happen in cases where a divorce was done without the help of a lawyer, resulting in unfair terms, or when a person has experienced a substantial change in the circumstances of his or her life. Don’t fret though, our Riverside divorce modifications attorney can help.
At Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic, our Riverside divorce modifications attorney can let you know what your options are when it comes to amending a divorce decree. To schedule an initial consultation at our family law firm in Riverside, call 951-888-0631.
There are certain terms of a divorce agreement, such as property division, that are generally not subject to modification. However, California divorce law recognizes that when a person’s circumstances have substantially changed, it may be necessary to change certain aspects of the agreement. A substantial change in circumstances may include the loss of a job, a remarriage or a need to move out of state.
One of the most frequently modified aspects of a divorce decree are those involving child custody and visitation. These are usually sought when one parent is planning to relocate, or when there have been accusations of neglect or abuse. Another aspect that is often modified in changing a divorce decree is the terms of child support, particularly when a parent has lost a job or, alternatively, when he or she has received a substantial bump in income. If spousal support, or alimony, is part of a divorce agreement, that may be modified upon remarriage or when the spouse receiving payments has become self-sufficient.
When it comes to changing your divorce decree, it is important to remember that, while it is technically possible to modify a divorce decree, you must prove that you have a valid cause for petitioning for modification. As previously stated, relocation, a change in income, or a terminating action that results in an end to your alimony obligation are all potential factors that can enable you to petition the Riverside, CA family court for a modification to your divorce order.
For your petition for modification to succeed, you must provide the court with as much information as possible about your proposed change so they can easily understand your reason for requesting the change. For example, if you are seeking a modification to your child custody terms because you want to move out of state with your child, you must provide ample information that shows the move would suit your child’s best interests. If a move would interfere with your ex’s custody and visitation rights, you must prove that the benefits to your child outweigh the inconvenience it would impose on your ex.
When the court receives a petition for modification, it will determine whether the petition is reasonable, and if so, assign a hearing date. This hearing provides both the petitioning party and the responding party to communicate about the issue. If you are petitioning for a modification to your divorce order, you should prepare to justify your reasoning and provide sound arguments to convince the court to approve your suggested change. If you are responding to your ex-spouse’s petition and believe it to be unreasonable or unfair, you must provide a compelling argument that supports your side of the case.
An experienced Riverside divorce modifications attorney can help with either side of a modification situation. If you are petitioning for a modification, your attorney will help you make a compelling argument that will be very difficult for the other party to challenge. Your attorney can help you gather supporting evidence and draft your petition as clearly as possible. If you are responding to your ex-spouse’s petition for modification, your attorney will help you determine which arguments will provide you the best chance of fighting their proposed changes.
If you believe a change to your current child support terms is warranted and reasonable, you can file a petition for modification that outlines your desired changes. For example, if your ex-spouse pays child support to you, and you learn that they recently earned a significant increase in pay, this may be enough justification for you to seek an increase to your child support payments. If you pay child support and lose your job, you may need to prove that the loss of your job was not your fault but presents significant financial restrictions. Then, you may seek a modification that reduces or temporarily pauses your child support obligation until you find a new job.
When it comes to any modification concerning child support, the parent petitioning for the change must make a convincing argument that the suggested change better suits the child’s best interests. Alternatively, the petitioning parent must prove that the change accounts for circumstances entirely beyond their control that interfere with their ability to pay their child support obligation.
Modifying a child custody order is typically much more difficult than altering any other part of a divorce decree. The California family court system has a legal duty to ensure that any suggested change to child custody suits the best interests of the children the change would affect. A parent has the right to petition for a modification to their child custody agreement if they believe the current terms are unfair, untenable, or fail to suit their child’s best interests. They may also petition for modification of child custody terms if something happens that interferes with their ability to exercise their parental rights.
One of the most common reasons for a parent to seek modification of child custody terms is relocation. The relocating parent may wish to maintain physical custody of their child and doing so would result in the other parent losing their custody rights. This can understandably frustrate the other parent and cause them to feel as though their ex-spouse is attempting to withhold their child from them. If you intend to relocate, you must either ensure that doing so would not create an unreasonable burden on your child’s other parent that prevents them from exercising their custody rights, or you must prove that your relocation suits your child’s best interests.
Many divorced couples in California have spousal support or alimony agreements in which one ex-spouse pays the other a predetermined amount each month. If you pay alimony to your ex-spouse and your divorce decree states that your payment obligation ends when they remarry or begin cohabitating with a new partner, you can petition for a modification to your divorce order if they engage in any such terminating actions. You may also petition for a change to your alimony terms if you receive alimony and your ex has a pay increase, or if you pay alimony and lose your job. The court will recalculate your alimony terms based on the new income levels as well as any other pertinent information brought to light during the modification hearing.
Unfortunately, domestic violence and divorce order violations affect many families throughout California each year. If you believe your ex-spouse poses any type of danger to your child, or if they have repeatedly violated the terms of your divorce decree, a modification to your divorce decree may be just one of your available options for addressing the situation. First, however, if your ex-spouse committed any type of domestic violence against you, your child, or any other member of your household, you should contact the police immediately.
Then, your Riverside divorce modifications attorney will help you determine the best way to approach this situation from the standpoint of your divorce decree. You may not need to proceed to modification petitioning directly but may choose instead to take a different legal route to ensure you and your family remain safe. Modification will then follow at a later date.
For example, if you file contempt proceedings against your ex for repeated violations of your child custody terms, the court may rule in favor of granting you sole custody in response to their behavior without the need for a separate modification process. If your ex committed domestic violence against you or your child, they would face criminal prosecution and likely lose any custody or visitation rights they may have had as punishment for their behavior.
The divorce decree modification process is relatively straightforward. If there are no procedural issues with your petition, you can expect a hearing date within a few weeks. The modification process is much simpler than an appeal, and it is possible to enact both temporary and permanent changes to your divorce decree through the modification process.
It is also possible to alter several aspects of your divorce through modification with a single petition. However, this process will take longer than addressing a petition for a single desired change. Your Riverside divorce modifications attorney can help you streamline this process so you can see the changes you seek as quickly as possible.
Whether you are seeking a modification or wish to challenge an ex’s request for a divorce decree modification, we can help explore your options. Call 951-888-0631 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your situation.
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