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California Child Support Order Modification

child support order modification

Can a California child support order be changed? If you have been divorced for a while, there is every possibility that circumstances have changed for you, your ex, or both of you. When dramatic changes occur, can corresponding changes be made to support orders? The short answer is yes.

Significant Earnings Changes and Child Support Modifications

In California, parents are ordered to pay child support because it is believed to be an essential responsibility. Failure to do so is not judged lightly, and a number of agencies across the state work to enforce a California child support order. Having made this clear, it is also important to understand that you or your former spouse always have the right to request changes to the child support order if there has been a significant adjustment to income. Either parent may request a change in support in the event a parent experiences a change in income.  That means support may either increase or decrease, depending on the circumstances. Some common events that may impact one’s earnings include:

  • Unemployment: If the payer is no longer working, it will likely impact the ability to make child support payments.
  • Incarceration: Because being locked up necessarily includes a loss of income for most people, support payments may be modified. However, upon release, those payments will be reinstated, and may be modified to increase in amount. Interest on unmade payments will accrue, as well.
  • Significant raise: Bringing in more money may impact the amount due to a child.

Additional Child Support Payment Modification Factors

Factors unrelated to one’s earnings may also play a role in a modifying California child support order.  Some of the most common issues include:

  • Changing needs of the child(ren). In some situations, a child’s needs may dramatically change. This may be related to an accident, a significant diagnosis requiring medical interventions, or even costs associated with education or training of some kind. The parent requesting the changes will be expected to provide ample documentation showing need for a modified support order.
  • Having more children: If one parent has additional children, it follows that the new child will require support, decreasing the amount available for the original child(ren). At this point, the court will attempt to find a balance that allows all dependent children to share the available support obligations.
  • Time Spent with Child(ren): In the event custody arrangements change, it is possible for support payments to be modified, as well.  If joint physical custody was originally agreed to, and then one parent moves too far away to continue caring for a child, that parent may be expected to contribute more in terms of child support.

Are Child Support Modification Requests Ever Denied?

There are some circumstances when requests for changes to support payments will not be granted. For example, if the court has reason to believe one parent intentionally quit working in order to evade payment requirements, it is likely the order will stay in place.  Likewise, if one parent fails to provide convincing evidence that a change is reasonable, it may not convince the court to agree to modifications. There are certainly plenty of cases when one party simply refuses to act in accordance with a support order because they believe it is unfair.  That could result in interest payments on neglected payments.

How to Proceed

If you are hoping to modify your California child support order, the experienced legal team at Beck Law P.C. can help. Let us help to make the case that a modification is justified, and go to bat for you. If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California, contact our Santa Rosa offices to schedule a confidential consultation today.

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