When one spouse files for divorce in a family with minor children, the process typically involves the courts creating or approving temporary custody and support orders that can help the family while they wait for more permanent solutions. The final custody and support orders get issued at the resolution of your divorce, leaving many people to assume that the rules and requirements are permanent.

However, parents sharing custody in California always have the option of requesting a modification. Post-decree modifications are changes to custody and support orders made after one parent requests a court review. When the situation in your life changes, it may be time to ask whether a modification would benefit you and your children.

To secure a modification, you must demonstrate real change

Whether you hope to modify the custody terms set in your initial divorce or the amount of child support you pay or receive, the courts will expect you to provide a reason for requesting the change and documentation of how you or your circumstances are different from the time when they finalize your divorce.

For custody modifications, changes in your employment, a new work schedule or a more stable living situation could all be reasons to ask for more time with your kids. If you failed to assert your parental rights during the divorce or wound up relegated to visitation only because of issues such as addiction, you can seek a modification to get more time with your kids and demonstrate to the courts that you are an involved and committed parent.

It can help you to make official changes to child support

If you hope to change the amount of child support, you need to be able to demonstrate to the court that your financial circumstances have changed or that your ex’s circumstances have changed substantially. For example, if your ex was working a part-time job at the time of your divorce but has since assumed an executive position with substantially better pay, requesting a review that reflects their new income is perfectly reasonable.

On the other hand, if you have lost your job or experience other financial hardship, such as an injury that has reduced your earning potential, you may be able to ask the court to reduce the amount of child support you pay to better reflect your current situation.

While it is often possible to make informal arrangements with your ex regarding both custody and support, it’s important to understand that only formal modifications protect you from enforcement efforts even if you have a verbal agreement with the other parent.