I had asked a few questions yesterday and received a answer to one of my questions.
What I need to know is that I have to pay Spousal support each month (on the 20th) that I can no longer afford. If my ex files a contempt of court:
1. Upon her filing, what is the general time frame before I go to court
(Ventura County). Do I get served by the Sheriff?
2. Once the Contempt of Court is served and I file a Order to Show Cause, does
the Judge handling the Contempt look at the Order to Show Cause at the same
time or is a different Judge?
3. My ex has a attorney who sends me emails when I am late, so would it be
better to get a attorney to just send her attorney a letter requesting a mod of
the Divorce and avoid court?
2 Answers from Attorneys
1) The time frame will depend on the local court schedule. But you must be personally served if it is an OSC for Contempt. SErvice can be served by the Sheriff if your Ex decides to pay for it, or it can be served by any person over 18 who is not a party to the litigation. The first appearance is genearlly an arraignment where you say either Guilty or Not-Guilty to the contempt charge.
2) If Ventura County uses the All Purpose Judge system (like they do in Santa Clara County), then it will be the same judge.
3) A letter to her attorney will get you nowhere. You need to file an OSC to modify support and have the new calculation done by the court. The only way to modify the prior court order is to go back to court or to have a written agreement (i.e. a stipulation) with your ex to modify the support amount.
You definitely need to find a local attorney to help you with the modification of support. If the spousal support order is a permanent order, it will be more difficult for you to file the modification as you will likely need to show a significant change in circumstances. It if is a temporary spousal support order, the OSC to modify will be easier.
You will really be shooting yourself in the foot if you wait until a contempt proceeding is filed against you before filing to modify support. Why wait? Why commit contempt and already be on the court's bad side when you go ask for a modification.
Yes it would be better for everyone if you can stipulate to a support modification. You don't have to have an attorney to do that, but you will be at a disadvantage in the negotiations. But either way, you need to get a modification stipulated or an OSC on file BEFORE the contempt or you will be in bad shape.