After the court enters a divorce judgment, whether after trial or by settlement agreement, either spouse may motion to have the judgment modified by motion or appeal. People file for a judgment change due to 1) a change of circumstances or 2) court error during the trial. Read on to learn more about how to modify or change a divorce judgment.

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How to Modify or Change a Divorce Judgment by Motion

A motion to modify a divorce judgment is less complex and less expensive than filling an appeal. Keep in mind that only certain aspects of a divorce judgment are modifiable by motion. Typical issues that can usuallybe modified post judgment are about the children. Furthermore, there must be a significant change in circumstances for the court to modify a judgment. For example, if a significant change in circumstances requires that a child custody order should be modified, the court may look at the situation to decide what is in the child’s best interest based on the new circumstances. Other issues that are usually modified post judgment include the modification of child and spousal support.

If a party asks to modify a judgment within six months of a divorce judgment, the court will often question the intent of the party filing the motion. To modify a divorce judgment you must file a Request for Order. It is fairly easy to file these types of modification motions without hiring an attorney. We do recommend, however, that you hire a professional legal document assistant who is familiar with this process.

How to File an Appeal to Change a Divorce Judgment

Modifying a divorce judgment by appeal is a much more difficult process. First of all, to win an appeal, the party filing the appeal needs to prove to the court that significant error occurred during trial. In addition, the error must be based on either fact and/or the law. The party trying to appeal the judgment must give the opposing party notice of the appeal. The moving party must meet strict deadlines and procedures when filing the appeal.

The moving party must prepare a record of appeal. The record of appeal will consist of the court reporter’s transcript and the clerk’s record. It is essential to have a court reporter at your trial to capture the oral arguments made and court rulings. The clerk’s record will consist of all documents filed with the court by the parties (example – pleadings and exhibits).

Lastly, both parties will need to file an appellate brief and make oral arguments before the court. The appellate court will review the brief, oral arguments, and relevant papers and make a ruling. The court may uphold the trial court’s decision, send the case back to trial court for a new trial, or modify the trial court’s ruling.

Filing an appeal to change a divorce judgment will require hiring an attorney who is familiar with appellate law. It is not a process we would recommend that you attempt to tackle on your own.

If you want to modify your divorce judgment to change child custody, visitation, or child or spousal support, A People’s Choice can help prepare the legal documents you need. We can also help with other types of post-judgment motions. Contact us for more information about the legal document preparation services we provide in California family law cases. You can reach us at 800-747-2780.

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