Modification of Child Support
When minor children are involved in a divorce, the non-custodial parent will usually have an obligation to pay child support to the other party. In California, upon the finalization of divorce, the court will issue a permanent child support order.
However, if your circumstances change in a way that the factors affecting child support calculations are impact, you can request the court for a child support modification order. This request can be made by either parent, depending on the change in circumstances. The court will then review whether or not the grounds for your requested modification are appropriate.
Income Change or Job Loss
While determining child support at the time of your California divorce, the judge will consider the income of both parents and the financial ability of the paying parent as the key factors. As a custodial parent, if your income goes down significantly, you can make a request for a reduction in your child support payments.
If you have lost your job, and you can prove that your financial ability to meet your child support obligations has reduced, the court may agree to modify the support order. On the other hand, if your income goes up, and the custodial parent learns that your financial ability to pay has increased, then he or she may request the court to increase your child support payments.
Change in Amount of Parenting Time
At the time of divorce, if the custodial parent is giving maximum time for the child’s care, while you are spending minimal parenting time, the court may impose a higher child support obligation on you. However, later on, if your circumstances change and you start spending a significantly greater amount of time with your child, you may apply for a child support modification order to reduce your payments.
The converse of this situation is also valid. If your parenting time has reduced after divorce, the custodial parent may request the court to increase your child support payments.
Changed Needs of Your Child
At all times during a divorce and beyond, the court will focus on the child’s best interests. If your child’s needs have reduced over time, you can request for a decrease in your child support obligations. On the contrary, if the child’s needs have increased and the existing support payments are falling short in meeting those needs, the custodial parent may request the court to modify child support and increase your payment obligations.
Caring for Additional Children
The court will determine your child support payments while taking into account the number of children you have to look after. If you are required to care for additional children later on, you can seek a modification of the current child support order to reduce your payments. That’s because every child needs a share of your financial assistance. The goal of the court will be bring a fair balance in your child support obligations by relating it to your number of dependants.
Non-Custodial Parent’s Incarceration
As the non-custodial parent, if you are incarcerated, your child support obligations do not automatically end. On the contrary, the court may require you to make up for the missed payments later on with interest. But if your financial circumstances have changed for worse following your incarceration, you have a right to ask the court to reduce your support payments through a child support modification order.
When is a Child Support Order Modification Denied?
Sometimes your financial circumstances may have actually changed, but still your request for child support order modification may be denied. Here are some of those situations:
You Intentionally Quit Your Job
If the court believes that you left your job solely with the purpose of reducing or eliminating your obligation to pay child support, it will deny your request for child support modification. In this situation, the court may factor in your previous income, no matter if you are not earning it any longer. In other words, the court will impute the same income on you, and keep your child support obligations unchanged.
The Modified Amount is not Significant
The change in your income or the change in your financial ability or the change in the child’s needs should be significant enough to make an impact. If the court finds that the change is too insignificant in financial terms, it may deny your request for order modification.
You do not Wish to Pay Child Support
Child support payments cannot be wished away. Merely because you do not wish to pay child support or you believe (without providing evidence) that support is not necessary, you will not be able to convince the court for an order modification.
Information and Documents for Modification
Your best bet to have a child support order modified would be to work with a competent child support order modification attorney in Orange County. Your attorney will help you organize the following information and documents to present a strong case before the court:
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Your current income and expense
- The current monthly child care expenses
- Health plan for the child
- Retirement income
- Disability benefits, if applicable
- Unemployment benefits
- Incarceration status, if applicable
Your child support attorney in Orange County may first try to work out a support modification agreement between you and the other parent. This agreement must conform to the California child support guidelines, and should be signed in writing by both parents. If an Orange County child support agency is involved, the agreement will have to be signed by their representative as well.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, your attorney will get you a date for court hearing. The court will review all your information, documents, and evidence and decide on your child support modification request.
Hire a Top-Rated Child Support Modification Attorney
Change in life is inevitable, and at some point you may find it necessary to have the child support order modified. But your requested modifications can only be approved if you are able to verifiably show to the court that yours or your child’s circumstances have significantly changed. With strategic legal guidance from an experienced child support lawyer in Orange County, you can successfully achieve your child support order modification goals.