Modifying Court Orders

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FAQ’s Related to Modifying Court Orders

After you are divorced, there may come a point in time when you want to modify one or more of the court orders that are set forth in your divorce judgment. You may want to modify the orders because circumstances have changed. Perhaps you lost your job and you can’t afford to pay the amount of support set forth in the divorce judgment. Perhaps the children are now older and it’s appropriate that they spend more custodial time with you. There can be any number of reasons why you may want to modify one or more of the provisions contained in your divorce judgment.

The basis for a motion to modify a court order is going to be that circumstances have changed since the divorce judgment was entered or since the court orders were issued, and those changed circumstances make it appropriate that the court make new orders.

If, after the divorce judgment has been issued or after a court order has been made, you decide you want to modify one or more of the orders because circumstances have changed, the first step is to contact your former spouse and see if he or she is agreeable to the proposed modification.

If your former spouse is agreeable to the modification, then you need to prepare a written “Stipulation and Order” setting forth the new agreement. You both sign the stipulation. Your signatures will need to be notarized. You then submit the stipulation to the court for a judge to sign.

You use the Judicial Council form, “Request For Order”, which is FL-300. This form has various boxes that you check to indicate the existing court order you want to modify. Fill out the form and then file it with the court. The court clerk will schedule a hearing on your motion.

If you ask the court to modify an existing child custody order, the court is going to primarily consider what will be in the best interests of the child. The court does not give much weight to what you think is best for you. It’s all about what is best for the child.

Yes. If you file an FL-300 motion to modify child custody, before a ending the hearing, you will be required by the court to participate in a court program known as “child custody mediation” or “child custody recommending counseling”. We have a video that offers valuable tips on how to prepare for, and what to do during, a “child custody mediation” or “child custody recommending counseling” session that is available for $20.

The FL-396 is a Judicial Council form that you can mail to your ex-spouse once per year after a divorce judgment has been entered. The FL-396 requires your ex- spouse to complete a new Income & Expense Declaration, which is FL-150, and send you the completed FL-150. In addition, the FL-396 requires your ex-spouse to give you copies of their most recent state and federal income tax returns.

A motion to modify an existing court order requires a showing of a material change in circumstances. The first hurdle you have to get over is a showing of a “material change in circumstances” before the court is even going to consider your request to modify an existing court order.

Serve your spouse with a copy of your papers and a blank Response form. Then, a end the hearing. Watch our videos on how to obtain temporary court orders for tips on what to do at the court hearing.

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