Family Code 215 is the law on post judgment modification requests and specifically their service. Let’s take a closer look at this code section.
Family Code 215
Family Code 215 states:
“(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b) or (c), after entry of a judgment of dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, legal separation of the parties, or paternity, or after a permanent order in any other proceeding in which there was at issue the visitation, custody, or support of a child, no modification of the judgment or order, and no subsequent order in the proceedings, is valid unless any prior notice otherwise required to be given to a party to the proceeding is served, in the same manner as the notice is otherwise permitted by law to be served, upon the party. For the purposes of this section, service upon the attorney of record is not sufficient.
(b) A postjudgment motion to modify a custody, visitation, or child support order may be served on the other party or parties by first-class mail or airmail, postage prepaid, to the persons to be served. For any party served by mail, the proof of service shall include an address verification.
(c) This section does not apply if the court has ordered an issue or issues bifurcated for separate trial in advance of the disposition of the entire case. In those cases, service of a motion on any outstanding matter shall be served either upon the attorney of record, if the parties are represented, or upon the parties, if unrepresented. However, if there has been no pleading filed in the action for a period of six months after the entry of the bifurcated judgment, service shall be upon both the party, at the party’s last known address, and the attorney of record.”
Family Code 215 has some complexity to it. Sections A, B and C deal with different issues.
Family Code 215, section (a)
Family Code 215, section (a) tells us that after a divorce judgment, annulment judgment, legal separation judgment, parentage judgment or after a permanent order for child custody and visitation or child support, any post judgment modification proceeding must be served “in the same manner as the notice is otherwise permitted by law to be served, upon the party.” Family Code 215 also tells us serving the other party’s lawyer is not enough. That means, for example, if hypothetically a person can properly serve the post judgment request for order by mail, that service must be on the other party and not only on the other party’s attorney. Whether service by mail or personal service is proper is a question about which you should consult with a family law attorney as the answer may depend on your specific situation.
Family Code 215, section (b)
Family Code 215, section (b) tells us that a post judgment request for order to modify child custody, visitation or child support can be served by first-class mail or airmail with an address verification. California Judicial Council form FL – 334 is a good form to use for address verification.
Family Code 215, section (c)
Family Code 215, section (c) tells us the circumstances that the above service rules do not apply to bifurcated cases. Bifurcated cases sometimes occur in family law cases when the court sets a separate trial on specific issues but not all of the issues. The court for example could set a separate trial on custody and visitation or an issue such as date of separation. To learn more about the “date of separation”, check out our page on Family Code 70. How Family Code 215(c) applies and how you should serve paperwork is a question best directed at a family law attorney in a private consultation because the answer may depend on the types of issues bifurcated and the type of request for order a person seeks unrelated to that bifurcation.
Does Family Code 215 apply to contempt actions?
We do not believe Family Code 215 applies to family law contempt actions as contempt actions generally require personal service on the party.
What about service on the other party’s lawyer?
We like to provide an opposing attorney with a courtesy copy of any post-judgment modification we file. This courtesy copy is separate and in addition to the copy served on the other party.
What about service on the Department of Child Support Services?
Since some child support cases involve the Department of Child Support Services, any child support modification request after judgment should include service on the Department of Child Support Services if the county provides financial assistance for the minor child or the county otherwise has an open case.
Contact us for a strategy session
Family Code 215 can be a confusing statute and if you have specific questions about your specific situation, there is no substitute for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney. Please do not attempt to figure out post judgment modification proceedings including their service on your own.
If your family law matter is in Orange County, Los Angeles County or Riverside’s central court on Main Street, please contact us for an affordable strategy session to discuss your specific situation. Our family law firm is highly experienced in handling pending and post-judgment divorce and parentage matters.
Nothing contained on this page or on our website is legal advice nor should it be construed as such. It is not intended to apply to your specific situation or answer your specific questions.