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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Does California family law allow for relief of a support order?

A support order is a fundamental part of a California divorce. However, there are often factors in dispute. This can be related to spousal support, child support or both. While the disagreements frequently stem from the amount that is paid and its duration, there are other reasons why couples might engage in a battle over the case. With these family law issues, it is imperative to have legal assistance from the beginning as there is nuance to the law that can be complex and confusing.

People who seek relief from a support order should understand the law for these circumstances. A party can be relieved from a support order - in full or in part - after the six-month limit has passed. One of the following must have occurred for the support order to be set aside beyond that time-frame: actual fraud; perjury; or a lack of notice.

Regarding actual fraud, the party who was victimized must have been kept ignorant or been subjected to fraud and prevented from taking part in the proceeding. This is not applicable if the person failed to exercise care or attention. When there is a motion or action for fraud, it must be brought within six months of when it was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. With perjury, this must be brought within six months of the time at which it was discovered or should have been discovered.

A lack of notice means that the summons was not served and did not provide adequate notice for the party to formulate a defense and there was a default because of it. The person who was not served can request there be a set aside and to have a chance to defend against the action. This cannot go beyond six months after the person obtained or reasonably should have obtained notice regarding the support order or that the income and assets have been attached based on that order.

It is unfortunate that there can be deception in a family law case, but it does happen as some spouses try to get as much as possible in their support order and the paying spouse will use certain tactics to avoid paying as much as they ordinarily would. When any of the above-listed situations has occurred, it might be possible for there to be relief. A law firm experienced in family law should be retained for representation to be fully shielded in a case.

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