Once a divorce order is issued, there is a limited time within which it may be contested. Because the divorce judgment is intended to be final and both parties have already had an opportunity to present their evidence to a judge, a post-judgment modification motion cannot be used simply to reargue the case. Instead, specific legal grounds must be met for a post-judgment modification motion to succeed. These can include:
- An irregularity in the proceedings caused by a judge abusing their discretion and preventing one side from receiving a fair hearing
- An accident or surprise that could not have been prevented with reasonable care
- Newly discovered evidence that could not have reasonably been discovered prior to the initial proceedings
- The evidence presented was insufficient to support the court’s ruling as a matter of law
- The judge misapplied the law
If one of the above issues materially affected the outcome of the proceedings, a motion for a new trial may be possible. Materially affected means that it is likely that the court would have ruled differently if the problem had not occurred. If the issue affected both parties equally or had no significant effect on the outcome, the motion will likely be denied. If the motion is granted, evidence will be reheard on any issues in question. While a new trial or hearing may result in a different outcome, it is also possible that the court will find that the initial ruling was proper even in light of the original error or omission.
Other Post Judgment Modification Issues
Issues such as child support, child custody and visitation are fluid by nature. For example, a parenting plan that made sense at the time of divorce may no longer be functional as the child grows older and circumstances change. A child support order may need modification when the parent who is obligated to pay child support loses their job. There are many reasons why certain provisions in a judgment may need modification. This can be resolved by reaching an agreement with the other parent or if necessary, filing a motion to modify your existing court orders.
To maximize your chances of successfully navigating this complex legal issue and meeting the tight deadlines to file the necessary motions, consult with an experienced family law attorney. If you are near Dublin, Alameda County, or surrounding Bay Area counties, contact Seo Family Law today to schedule an appointment.