California Family Code Section 215 outlines how notices and papers must be served on parties involved in a modification of child custody, support, or visitation.
Most family court orders are not set in stone. The court understands that circumstances change. Court orders like child custody, visitation, or child support are made to serve the interests of your child or children and the rest of your family. However, those needs and interests can change. Children grow up, parents have changes in income, and all parties can have different financial needs.
Certain family court orders can be modified under specific conditions. For court orders involving children, the court presumes that stability is in a child’s interest. To modify these court orders, parents may need to show a substantial change in circumstances or proof that the change is to their child’s benefit.
Parents who are looking to modify court orders need legal representation. When you work with an attorney, your petition for modification has a better chance of succeeding. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have represented families in mediation and during hearings for more than 40 years. We know how circumstances can change and may require a different custody or support order. Let us help you advocate for your family’s interests in a hearing or draft an agreement with your co-parent.
In California, either parent can request a modification of custody, visitation, or support orders for their children. If parents both agree on a modification, then they can create an agreement together. This agreement is then submitted to the court. The judge assigned to the case determines if the order is fair and in the child’s interests and signs it into the new order.
If parents don’t agree on an order modification, then the parent proposing the change must file a petition for modification with the court. To modify visitation orders, a parent must show that the changes are in the child’s interests. For custody or child support modifications, the petitioning parent must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that requires the modification.
A change in circumstances for a custody order may include:
A change in circumstances for a modification of a child support order may include:
Whether these changes are considered significant is up to the judge’s discretion. This is why an attorney’s assistance is invaluable in arguing for a modification.
Family Code Section 215 explains that, for these post-judgment modifications to be legally valid, the petitioning party must personally serve their co-parent papers. This means that the petitioning parent cannot serve a record of notice to the other party’s attorney. They can personally serve the papers in one of the following ways:
Proof of service is required by the court. If papers are not served to the other party this way, any modifications made are not legally valid.
There is an exception to this requirement. If a final judgment has not been made by the court on the initial custody, visitation, or support orders, then notice can be given to their attorney or directly to the party.
Once one of the parties has been served, they may enter modification mediation with their respective attorneys. This can save both parties legal costs rather than going through litigation. However, if mediation is not possible, the judge will hear each party’s wishes and reasons.
A: Yes, child support can be modified without going to court. If you and your co-parent can agree on a change to child support, you can create an agreement. This agreement can then be entered into court for a judge’s approval. As long as the change is in the child’s interests, and does not seem unfair to either parent, the judge is likely to approve it. It will then become a court order.
A: A child support order modification can be made if the judge believes your change in circumstances to be significant. This may include a change in income, employment, or a child’s financial needs. Whether this change is significant is up to the judge’s discretion. The most effective way to show a judge that the change is significant is to work with an experienced attorney. They can advocate for your needs and those of your child.
A: If the parent paying for support has an increase in income, support payments could increase. If the parent receiving support has an increase, payments could decrease. Child support in California is calculated in part by the income of both parents. For this reason, if the income of either parent changes significantly, child support could be modified. A parent must file for modification, or both parents can work together on an agreement for modification.
A: California’s Family Code Section 215 refers to a modification of child custody, visitation, and child support. If these modifications are made post-judgment, the petitioning parent must personally serve the other parent’s papers. If a parent fails to serve the papers and provide the court proof of service, any changes are legally invalid.
Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, for legal support during court order modifications. We can help you determine how family law will impact your family’s unique needs.
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