San Jose Modifications Attorney

Modifications of Divorce Orders in San Jose and Santa Clara County

Marilla RonaldWhen two people have children together, a divorce decree rarely marks the true end of their relationship. Assuming both parents plan to continue their involvement in the child's life, the parents will have to continue to communicate and make financial, educational and medical decisions.

As a divorce attorney working in San Jose, I do everything within my power to ensure that my client's final divorce agreement accounts for every possible eventuality. However, the fact of the matter is that circumstances change - whether by choice or against our wishes.

Have your financial or other circumstances changed? Do you have questions about how to seek a modification of an existing divorce order? My name is Marilla J. Ronald, and I am a Santa Clara County divorce lawyer with almost 20 years' legal experience. I am certified as a Family Law Specialist* by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Contact my office to schedule a private consultation about modifications of divorce orders.

Modification of Child Support Orders

California child support laws allow parents to apply for modification of child support orders if any of the following situations apply:

  • Either parent's income has changed substantially - either upwards or downwards (for example, due to job loss or a promotion)
  • The amount of time the child spends with each child has changed significantly
  • The child's medical or educational needs change in a significant way

Either parent may apply for the child support modification, and the other parent may fight the request or agree to it. One word of warning regarding child support modifications: No matter how friendly your relationship is with your ex-spouse, do not agree to informal child support modifications without memorializing your agreement as a formal document filed with the court.

Modifications of Child Custody and Visitation Orders

In making initial decisions about child custody, visitation arrangements and parenting plans, the family law courts in California examine many facts to determine what type of arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

That measurement - "the best interests of the child" - continues to apply after the divorce is final. There are many situations in which one parent may believe that existing custody and visitation orders are no longer in the child's best interests. In situations like the following, either parent may petition the divorce court for a modification of the child custody or visitation order:

  • One parent is abusing or neglecting the child
  • One parent is putting the child into situations where abuse is a real possibility (for example, the threat of abuse from a new partner with past abuse-related criminal convictions)
  • The parent with primary custody wishes to move out of state (these are known as relocation cases and are often hard-fought)
  • One parent has engaged in a long-term pattern of behavior preventing the child from spending time with the other parent (this is known as parental alienation syndrome)

It is important to understand that a child custody modification order may not result in a 180-degree change in the current custody order. Family court judges have many options, as do parents. These options include supervised visitation time, expanded visitation time, a more equal share of physical custody, or a modified visitation agreement that takes into account geographical separation.

If you have any questions about modification of existing orders relating to child support or child custody, I encourage you to contact my office for a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney. All of my office's clients work directly with me for the duration of their cases.

*Marilla J. Ronald is certified as a Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.