I often get clients who come to my office discuss a hearing that has already happened, and went badly for them. Although my advice is always to hire a lawyer to help you with your case BEFORE things go badly, there are some options for after a hearing in California under the Family Law Code.
First, if you have discovered new evidence after the hearing (this often comes up from something you heard or saw during the hearing) you can file a motion for reconsideration. However, you must file this within TEN DAYS of the hearing date to ensure that the court can hear the motion. This can only be done, however, if you have actually new evidence and a reason you did not present it at the hearing.
Second, you can file an appeal. These are relatively rare in family law because the court has broad discretion to divide property equitably, set support, and put custody and visitation provisions in place that are in the best interests of the child or children. However, if the court makes an error of law—misapplying the law or using the wrong law—-you may appeal the decision. It is vital to have an appeals attorney review your chances of success on an appeal, as this is a lengthy process.
Third, if the matter is something that can be reviewed in the future due to a substantial change of circumstances, such as visitation orders or support amounts, you can file for a modification in the future. However, you should be careful to make sure you have actual changed circumstances, rather than simply a request for the judge to make a different decision without substantially new facts.
One common problem that courts will fix is a vague custody and visitation order. Often parties will agree to an order that does not have set times and days, and then later a conflict or dispute arises when the parties can no longer agree on dates. This can happen during the day to day schedule or during holiday or summer vacation. The court will, in these cases, issue a specific order that the parties can follow and use law enforcement to enforce the orders.
DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.