The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for families across California, but potentially even more challenges for families going through a divorce or grappling with other family law issues. During the state of emergency, court operations have been altered to address public health and safety issues, making it particularly difficult for people who need requests to be filed and processed by the courts.
To try to offset that impact, the California Judicial Council has been passing temporary emergency orders to help families find relief without accessing the courts directly. An area of concern during the stay-at-home orders is the ability to modify child and spousal support since many people had a sudden and expected loss of income or even the loss of their jobs. The Judicial Council passed emergency rule #13 that allows for child and spousal support orders to be modified on the day the request was first served or mailed. This is a big change that makes it much easier to request a modification for a support order. Previously the court only had jurisdiction to change the order based on when it was filed in court.
Filing Does Not Equal A Decrease In Support
Filing the request for the support modification does not mean it will be granted. It is still up to the judge in the case to decide if the change in support is warranted. The judge also has the discretion to decide if a change is made, when it becomes effective. No change is effective prior to notice to the opposing party with a proof of service.
Timing Is Important?
If your income or job situation has changed during the pandemic and you feel you are entitled to a decrease or an increase in your court ordered support, you should contact your attorney as soon as possible. Under this temporary rule, you can also request a support order if one is not already in place. Contact your family law attorney to see if emergency rule 13 will help your current situation. Your attorney can also help you decide the best way to make sure the notice is properly served.
Emergency rule 13 will remain in effect until 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted regarding the COVID-19 pandemic or the Judicial Council votes to repeal or amend the rule.