Seldom is a family law case “forever” and “finally” resolved by the initial judgment. Usually, the parties will need to revisit or “modify” their orders on the issues of child custody, child support and/or spousal support at least once after the judgment is entered. Many cases also have property issues that still need to be resolved after the judgment is entered, such as in cases where the parties have agreed to defer sale of a family residence to allow one party to remain in the home for a period of time for the benefit of the children.
The court has continuing jurisdiction to modify its prior orders, unless jurisdiction was specifically terminated in the judgment. Most frequently, this occurs in cases where the parties waive spousal support in their judgment, in which case the parties also usually agree that the court cannot thereafter award spousal support to either party. In cases of child custody and child support, however, the court always retains jurisdiction to make or modify custody and support orders until the child reaches the age of majority (age 18, unless the child is still enrolled full time in high school, in which case jurisdiction will continue until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates high school, whichever first occurs).