The court must receive live testimony, unless the court finds good cause not to and states so on the record. You must prepare a witness list. Upon request if the witness list is not served prior to the hearing, the court may grant a continuance.
Specifically, Family Code 217 provides as follows:
(a) At a hearing on any order to show cause or notice of motion brought pursuant to this code, absent a stipulation of the parties or a finding of good cause pursuant to subdivision (b), the court shall receive any live, competent testimony that is relevant and within the scope of the hearing and the court may ask questions of the parties.
(b) In appropriate cases, a court may make a finding of good cause to refuse to receive live testimony and shall state its reasons for the finding on the record or in writing. The Judicial Council shall, by January 1, 2012, adopt a statewide rule of court regarding the factors a court shall consider in making a finding of good cause.
(c) A party seeking to present live testimony from witnesses other than the parties shall, prior to the hearing, file and serve a witness list with a brief description of the anticipated testimony. If the witness list is not served prior to the hearing, the court may, on request, grant a brief continuance and may make appropriate temporary orders pending the continued hearing.
This section allows a party to serve a post-judgment motion for custody and visitation or child support by mail, so long as it is verified by an FL-334 form. If you have a spousal support matter that does not include a child support component, you will have to serve personally.
The code states:
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), 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 must include an address verification.
California Family Code 213 provides as follows:
(a) In a hearing on an order to show cause, or on a modification thereof, or in a hearing on a motion, other than for contempt, the responding party may seek affirmative relief alternative to that requested by the moving party, on the same issues raised by the moving party, by filing a responsive declaration within the time set by statute or rules of court.
(b) This section applies in any of the following proceedings:
(1) A proceeding for dissolution of marriage, for nullity of marriage, or for legal separation of the parties.
(2) A proceeding relating to a protective order described in Section 6218.
(3) Any other proceeding in which there is at issue the visitation, custody, or support of a child.
In other words, when a request is made that the court make orders, there is always the risk that the other party can request an order that favors them in the response, which the court is authorized to consider.
We managed to save a client from financial ruin recently. His ex wife had an old pendente lite support order from 12 years ago that was obtained during a divorce. The couple reconciled for a little more than a year, then decided to finish the divorce. No new orders were issued when the divorce was finalized. That old order provided that my client to pay $5,000 per month!
My client lost his job during the reconciliation, and never paid this amount. Fast forward to this year, now ex tries to register the order here, stating he owes her arrears of $600,000, plus 10% interest every year since 2000 – around $1,000,000!
We were successful in proving that a reconciliation occurred and provided case law to the court that indicated that the order had been vacated because the parties had reconciled. Her motion was denied, and my client is extremely happy!
A man came into our office asking for our help with a case that had been lingering on for 4.5 years! He just wanted it over with, but the continuances and lack of cooperation had thrown his case into a black hole. Two months after hiring our firm, the case was done – and with the result he wanted! Our office receives great satisfaction helping to move people on from being stuck in the combative role on to a happier life.