Post-Judgment Modifications of California Family Law Orders

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsIt usually means the end of visiting the court and interacting with lawyers once a divorce has been finalized. But if the divorced couple has children, it does not mean an end to an emotionally ugly divorce case. It is because after a divorce has been granted, the divorced parents will have to deal with the issues of child support, custody and alimony.

A number of rulings from the divorce can be modified post-judgment. Some of these have been discussed here.

Child custody and visitation

Any parent can seek a modification to the final custody ruling. But you will have to prove to the court any significant change in circumstances that may have happened since the judgment. Also, you need to show that the newly proposed order will be in the best interests of the child. If a parent misses visitations but makes up for it later, you cannot ask for modification in custody.

If you want a modification of the custody and visitation rights, you have to make a showing of a “substantial change of circumstances” since the judgment was entered.  Also, a parent who feels that the other parent is not spending sufficient time with the child or is causing physical and emotional abuse can request for post judgment modifications.

Child support

You can also modify child support after a judgment. It can be done at any time if there is a change in the incomes (increase or decrease) of both the parents. But you, the parent, should be able to determine if the change in your income is permanent or not. Also, a slight change in income should not be a reason for seeking post judgment modification. Your request will not be entertained if the judges feel the change in income is not significant.


If the divorce ruling was agreed upon by the spouses, then a modification of alimony post judgment is not possible. The amount of alimony awarded, though, can be modified. But it is not a very straightforward or simple process. The Court considers the 13 factors stated in the Family Code section 4320 and other related aspects to reach a decision.

Always consult with experienced divorce lawyers in California before requesting for post-judgment modifications or defending such requests. They will help you to plan a strong strategy and approach the court with a solid case.

To learn more about the divorce and post-divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation