Post-Judgment Discovery and Modifications (How to see how much $$ your Ex earns)

You may be receiving child support and you don’t think it’s enough.  You may be paying spousal support but think your ex is actually making more now than at the time of the divorce.  Before filing a motion to modify support, wouldn’t it be great to know how much money they are making—so you don’t waste your time or money?  But, they will never give you their paystubs or tax returns, right?

California Family Code § 3664 authorizes requests for current income and expense declarations—after the judgment!  It is suggested that these requests only be made once a year at most.  The form created to facilitate this request is judicial council form FL-396.  So, what happens if they ignore your request?  Guess, what—there’s another form for that (don’t you love family law).  If your Ex doesn’t cooperate, 35 days later you can file judicial council form FL-397 directly with their employer.  The problem?  There’s no real teeth to the FL-397, in that if the employer refuses to cooperate there is not much that you can do about it.

If your Ex refuses to comply with your FL-396 request and the employer fails to cooperate as well, you are setting yourself up for a great argument that the court should make your Ex pay your attorney fees—due to their lack of cooperation.  However, you will have to file a request to modify support.  Once the proceedings begin, if they again fail to submit complete income and expense disclosure documents, you can also ask for sanctions under California Family Code § 3667.

You may read this in horror.  Is there no privacy?  Any party paying or receiving support has a right to demand the other party’s tax information as long as that support order in place!

As Retired California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George said, “Our court system increasingly has recognized that a judicial decree is far from the final word in a divorce; parental and fiscal responsibilities may last for many years.”  Far from the final word is right.

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