Can you change the determinations made in a divorce if circumstances change? 12 Answers as of January 18, 2011

If someone uses the same divorce attorney and the divorce becomes final, can the terms be changed later? For instance, they said they would share custody of the children, but every time it's my brother's turn to have the kids for the weekend, his ex-wife comes up with a reason why she needs to keep them. Can he get custody in writing even though the divorce is already final? Also, his child and alimony payments were determined on his last two years of work. He has since lost his job and the ex-wife makes more than he does. Can you and how do you adjust the required monthly payments? He "owes" her $5000/month but doesn't have a job. How is he supposed to pay this? Thank you for any help you can provide. Signed, a worried sister

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Law Office of John C. Volz
Law Office of John C. Volz | John C. Volz
Child custody, alimony and child support are always modifiable. Your brother would need to file a request for the court to modify the current custody arrangement. Additionally, he would need to file a request with the court to modify the support amounts based on the loss of his job.

Please contact our office for additional information.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
Yes. Your brother could file an OSC seeking a modification of the existing orders based on a change in circumstance. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
Your brother needs to file for a court hearing IMMEDIATELY. His support will continue until he does!!!!! Also, I can change the visitation to specific writing, so your brother will have a judgment with exact times and dates the child(ren) are to be with him, and I can STOP the mother from being possessive of the child(ren).
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
Yes your brother can change the terms of custody, visitation and support based on change of circumstances. Hire another attorney to make the changes.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
Goldberg Jones
Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
Yes and Yes. He needs to file an Order to Show Cause to modify visitation and reduce support. This is common practice when you lose a job or a parent is restricting you from the kids. He needs to hire an attorney ASAP. Please have him call me.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Yes, after the divorce is final, the custody and support orders may be modified due to "changed circumstances." All custody decisions are based on the "children's best interests." Those interests change as they get older, and other circumstances may warrant a change in custody/visitation.

    As for support, losing one's job is a "changed circumstance" that warrants a reduction of support, sometimes to zero.

    It would be best for your brother to contact a local family law lawyer, where the specific facts of his case can be discussed in detail. That lawyer can then help your brother get orders modifying custody and support.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Generally, the terms of the judgment, other than custody of children and support issues, are non-modifiable after entry of judgment. Custody and visitation, and support, are modifiable so long as the children are minors. I would be happy to discuss this further and I offer a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You were wise to seek advice on behalf of your brother.

    To deal with his unemployment, your brother should file an Order to Show Cause to modify Child Support, supported by his Income and Expense Declaration, reflecting in his supporting declaration the date and fact of his being laid off from his job, and his unsuccessful efforts to find new employment. The Court won't modify Child Support retroactively to a date prior to his filing that Order to Show Cause, so he should not delay getting assistance, preferably from a Family Law Attorney, but if he can't afford that, some courts have clinics available to assist people in preparing documents and advise regarding the procedures. Based on the facts you relate, your brother should be able to get a Child Support Order requiring his ex-wife to pay Child Support to him.

    To deal with the custody/visitation difficulty that your brother is having, I am assuming from your question that the judgment only provides for joint Child Custody. If that is the case, and the specific days and times of your brother's physical custody of the children are not spelled out in the divorce judgment, I would suggest that the Order to Show Cause that your brother files include a request for a modification of Child Custody, to spell out particular days and times each week (plus alternate holidays, birthdays, etc.) for your brother's physical custody of the children - and in his supporting declaration, he should set forth the problems he has experienced with his ex-wife about his time with the children, and set forth a "parenting plan" providing the days and times he wants his children to be with him, and the days and times he wants his children to be with his ex-wife.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Pisarra and Grist
    Pisarra and Grist | David T. Pisarra
    Get your brother to a good attorney TODAY. Everything he needs can be done by a good lawyer. My books cover these issues, A Man's Guide To Child Custody and A Man's Guide to Divorce Strategy available on Amazon and my website.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Maclean Chung Law Firm
    Maclean Chung Law Firm | G. Thomas MacLean Jr.
    Even after a divorce is final, issues like custody and support can be modified after the divorce judgment has been granted.

    Your brother may want to file an Order to Show Cause application and have a hearing set to modify support payments if he is making less now then he used to, and also request a custody order. Prior to any changes in custody, a mediation appointment will also need to be set up through the court.

    Time is important, since your brother may continue to be liable for the full amount of support each month until he files a request to modify it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Yes, some of the issues can be changed. Child custody and support can change if there is a change in circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
    Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP
    Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP | Paul M. Teinert
    A person can petition the court to modify a custody order and/or a support order. The basis to make such a modification is when there has been a "change in circumstance". An attorney can be very helpful is assisting a person who is seeking such a modification. Feel free to contact my office if you have any questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2011
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