Change is a fact of life. After a divorce or paternity judgment is made as to support, the income of the parties can change so much that a new level of support should be established. Typically, the court would order a change when the new level of support, as determined by the state's guidelines, would be 20% more (or less than) the amount of support last ordered by the court.
In addition, it is possible for support to change just because a child's expenses have dramatically increased, e.g. a child is now driving a car, or attending college or vocational school. (See Child Support Modification/Changing Child Support for more information.)
Custody issues may also need to be re-addressed if the last court ordered custody plan is no longer in the best interest of the child. An example of that would be if a parent wants to move his or her residence, and the move would occasion a need to change the parenting plan's schedule. Or, a parent wanting to move out of state or a parent that wants to change the schedule so that the child is with the parent more are all examples of a need to re-address the last court ordered plan. (See Child Custody Changes and Parenting Plan Modifications for more information.)
Court orders directing one spouse to pay support or maintenance to the other (formerly known as alimony) may be subject to modification, depending on the type of support ordered, if the circumstances that led to the initial order have changed in a “substantial and continuing” way. (See Spousal Support Modification/Changing Spousal Support for more information.)
To change the existing court order, it is necessary to file a "motion to modify" with the court. Cynthia Fox has worked with hundreds of clients to modify existing judgments to reflect the changed needs and circumstances after an original judgment was rendered.
As to divorce cases, the court has no authority to change property divisions it ruled upon previously and which are final judgments. The court does have, however, authority to divide property not previously divided by the court in a divorce case (e.g. an additional bank account is discovered).