Getting information about your ex-spouse’s income before you file a motion to modify support: Assume you have been divorced for a couple of years. You think your ex-spouse is earning more money, but you are not sure how much more. Your spouse won’t tell you how much they are now earning. You are also earning more money. You can’t run a support calculation to find out if the amount of support should go up or down because you don’t know exactly how much your ex-spouse is earning. You don’t want to file a motion to modify support, only to find out that your spouse is earning less than you thought and then have the court issue a support order that is worse than the existing order. What do you do? You can send your ex-spouse a “Request For Production Of An Income And Expense Declaration After Judgment” (FL-396).
The FL-396 is a Judicial Council form that you can mail to your 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 (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. Your ex-spouse is required to send you his or her completed FL-150 and the tax returns within 35 days. If ex-spouse fails to send you his or her FL-150 within 35 days, you can send his or her employer a “Request For Income And Benefit Information From Employer” form (FL-397). You can click on the “Court Forms” button on the navigation bar to go to our Court Forms Database where you will find a blank FL-396 that you can fill out and print. If you need the FL-397, that form is also in our database.
Using the FL-396 and FL-397 is a way you can see how much your ex-spouse is earning and then decide if it makes sense for you to file a motion to modify child support and/or spousal support. When you use the FL-396, you will need to attach a copy of a blank FL-150. You can find a blank FL-150 that you can print in our Court Forms Database. You cannot mail the FL-396 to your ex-spouse yourself because you are a party to the action. Have a friend that is over 18 year old mail the FL-396 and then fill out the “Proof of Service By Mail” section that is on page two of the FL-396.
If you file an FL-300, then you also have another avenue for obtaining information you may need to win your motion. After you file the FL-300, you can use “Discovery” to obtain all kinds of information from your ex-spouse and/or from third parties. “Discovery” refers to forms and procedures that include the following: 1) Request For Production of Documents; 2) Request For Admissions; 3) Interrogatories; 4) Depositions; and 5) Subpoenas. See the “Contested Case” section of our website, then the sub-topic “Discovery”, where we discuss “Discovery” forms and procedures.