Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today’s video is an introduction regarding how to go about modifying an existing court order, which includes modifying orders set forth in a Judgment of Dissolution that the court previously issued.
Ed: Christina, why would anyone want to modify a court order that already exists?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Are there other types of court orders that can be modified, besides orders contained in a divorce judgment?
Christina: There are other kinds of court orders you may want to modify besides orders that are part of your divorce judgment. You may want to modify temporary court orders that were issued while you are waiting to get to trial. You may want to modify court orders that were made months or even years after your divorce judgment was issued.
Ed: What types of court orders are commonly modified?
Christina: Certain types of court orders are frequently modified. For example, child custody orders are frequently modified. Child support and spousal support orders are also frequently modified. Other types of court orders can be modified.
Ed: Are there some types of court orders that can’t be modified?
Christina: Some types of court orders cannot be modified. Generally, orders in your divorce judgment for the division of assets and debts are “written in stone” and can’t be modified, unless those orders are modified with the consent of your former spouse.
Ed: Is there a difference between modifying a court order and having that order set aside?
Christina: Yes. Although orders in a divorce judgment regarding the division of assets and debts generally cannot be modified by post-judgment motions, it may be possible to set aside those types of orders if there is a legal basis for a set-aside motion. For example, if you agreed to the property and debt division portions of your divorce judgment because your former spouse committed some type of fraud against you, exerted undue influence over you, or somehow forced you into the settlement, then you may be able to set aside some of the provisions of the divorce judgment. If your former spouse failed to provide you with his or her properly completed Declaration of Disclosure documents as required by law, then that may be a basis for a set-aside motion. There are multiple grounds for a motion to set aside all or part of a divorce decree. However, a discussion about the law and procedures associated with set-aside motions is beyond the current scope of our website. In this series of videos, we are only discussing how to modify certain kinds of court orders.
Ed: What would be grounds for modifying an existing court order?
Christina: 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.
Ed: If I want to modify an existing court order, what is the first step I should take?
Christina: 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.
Ed: If my former spouse will agree to my proposed modification, what do I do next?
Christina: 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.
Ed: Are there Judicial Council forms that I can use to set forth our stipulation?
Christina: There are Judicial Council forms you can use for a stipulation to modify certain kinds of court orders, such as child custody orders or child support orders. We will talk about these Judicial Council forms in later videos in this series. For other types of court orders, there are no Judicial Council forms. You will need to draft a written document known as a “Stipulation and Order” that will set forth your new agreement. We have included a basic template for a “Stipulation and Order” in our Templates Database.
Ed: What do I do if my former spouse won’t agree to my request to modify the terms of an existing court order?
Christina: If your former spouse is not agreeable to your proposed stipulation to modify an existing court order, then you may want to suggest that the two of you meet with a mediator and try to resolve the disagreement through mediation. We suggest you watch our earlier video on mediation.
Ed: What if my former spouse won’t agree to my proposed stipulation and won’t agree to participate in mediation, what do I do?
Christina: If your former spouse is not agreeable to your proposed stipulation and won’t agree to mediation, then you can file a motion with the court and ask the court to make new orders modifying the terms of the divorce judgment or other prior court orders.
Ed: How do If file a motion with the court to modify an existing court order?
Christina: You can use the Judicial Council form, “Request For Order”, which is FL-300, for your motion. As previously discussed in earlier videos, the FL-300 form can be used to obtain temporary court orders, but it can also be used to modify existing court orders. A fillable version of the FL-300 can be found in our Court Forms Database. The process for filing the FL-300 “Request For Order”, which is also known as an RFO, is discussed in more detail in a later video in this series.
Ed: In the next two videos, we are going to discuss in more detail certain court orders that are frequently modified. We are going to start with motions to modify child custody and child support orders.