Modifying Divorce Decrees

Once a divorce order has been entered by the court, parties are expected to abide by its terms. However, as time goes by, lives and circumstances change. Children grow up. Ex-spouses remarry. People change jobs. When parties experience a significant change, it is often appropriate to modify their divorce decree to make the terms consistent with the reality of their present lives.

Divorce decree modifications include, but are not limited to:

Child custody modifications

Changing your custody and visitation order may be necessary if, for example, the current parenting plan has become unworkable, if a parent has moved, or if a child's needs have changed following the last order.

  • If you are attempting to change custody (not a temporary custody arrangement), generally, the change of circumstances justifying the modification of the order must be substantial. An experienced attorney who is a Certified Family Law Specialist can help you effectively present the facts of your case to the court and determine if child custody modification is a viable option for you.

Child support modifications

Typically, a judge will allow a great deal of latitude regarding the modification of a child support order to ensure that a child is properly provided for financially. There are a number of factors that could lead the court to modify child support, including, but not limited to:

  • Change in the percentage of time that a parent spends with a child
  • Change in employment (e.g., job loss, pay raise, or a drop in salary)
  • Remarriage of a spouse and a resulting change in one's tax filing status
  • Purchase of a new home and resulting mortgage interest and property tax deductions
  • Change in the amount one pays for health insurance
  • And much more.

An experienced attorney who is a Certified Family Law Specialist can inform you of your rights regarding child support modification as it pertains to your case and help you effectively present the facts of your case to the court.

Spousal support modifications

Changes to the amount you pay or receive in spousal support depend in part on whether that support is temporary or permanent:

  • With temporary spousal support, similar factors that impact child support can alter the temporary spousal support amount since both are typically determined using a DissoMaster support calculation.
  • With permanent spousal support, if your Judgment allows modification, typically, the moving party will need to show a material change of circumstances since the last order was entered. An experienced attorney who is a Certified Family Law Specialist can help you effectively present the facts of your case to the court and determine if spousal support modifications is a viable option for you.

These are only a few ways in which divorce decrees may be modified. Beyond this simple outline of modifications, there may be complications and nuances arising from the specifics of your case for which you'll want to be prepared. Michael P. McDeavitt, a Family Law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist with over 20 years experience, can help you assess your options and fight for your modification goals.

Contact us by phone or through our website for a free initial consultation at our Pleasanton office. We also represent clients in Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon, the Tri-Valley and throughout East Bay.