Many people incorrectly assume that everything in a divorce decree is final. While this is generally true of asset division, including who gets the home and how to split your retirement accounts, the same is not true of child custody and support. After all, family situations and personal situations can change in a matter of only a few days.
Thankfully, the California family courts recognize that change is inevitable. They do allow both custodial and non-custodial parents to seek modifications of both child support and child custody arrangements when circumstances for the family change.
Sometimes, a streak of bad luck can mean a modification is necessary
Many people find their lives in a state of upheaval after divorce. Social and emotional fallout from divorce can last for weeks or months, and it can impact everything from your employment situation to your other relationships.
Losing a place to live or your job could make it much more difficult to meet your obligations to your children. Thankfully, when bad luck reduces your income or makes your living situation too unstable for overnight visitation, the courts will typically work with you.
You can request a modification to reduce your support or adjust your child custody until your situation improves. Alternately, if you worry that your spouse's living situation is too volatile, you may also be able to request a custody modification until that situation improves.
Positive changes can also lead to modifications
One common reason that people need to seek a modification of child support is because it is time to retire. Other times, a parent may need to adjust child support levels because a new child is on the way. Growing families and similar blessings can impact what a parent can pay.
Sometimes, after a divorce, one parent really fixes his or her life. If there were substance abuse issues, the individual may seek treatment. Over time, with a lot of effort, they may secure a good job and a safe place to live. In that situation, a parent who did not receive shared custody or who is relegated to only visitation may seek a modification because of improve circumstances.
The courts generally wish to support relationships with both parents, so evidence showing that one parent has improved his or her life situation will empower the courts to adjust the custody situation. Counseling, rehabilitation, records of steady employment and a clean, safe home to share with the children are all positive steps that can help a parent seek a custody modification.
Whether you hope to seek a modification because you want to spend more time with your children or because you simply aren't receiving enough child support, California has a relatively straightforward process that allows you to seek those changes.