In California, child support is ordered to ensure that parents fairly contribute to their child’s financial needs and well-being. Child support terms are based on several factors, including custody arrangements, the child’s needs, and each parent’s ability to pay.
When there is a significant change in circumstances, it may be necessary to ask for a child support modification. If you are seeking a change in child support, there are specific steps you must follow to petition the court for a modification order.
Understand California Child Support Principles
Courts are required to adhere to specific principles set forth in the California Family Code when making child support decisions. It is important to understand those principles when seeking child support modification. Examples of those principles include the following:
- Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their child.
- Parents should pay for the support of their children according to their ability.
- The top priority is the child’s interests.
- A child should share the standard of living of both parents.
- It is presumed that a parent with primary physical custody contributes a significant portion of resources to the child.
Calculate Your Potential Support
Before you file a motion to modify support, you should consider that the court does not have to rule in your favor. If it is warranted, the court can change the support terms in a manner that favors your child’s other parent instead.
Before requesting a modification, you should determine the amount of support that will be ordered based on California support guidelines. You can calculate that amount with the child support guidelines calculator or contact a California family law attorney to discuss your case and potential modification request outcome.
Qualify For Modification
You should only seek a modification of support if you have qualifying circumstances. In general, courts will not order a change in child support unless you or your child’s other parent has experienced a material change in circumstances, such as job loss, disability, a significant increase or decrease in income, a new child to support, and changes in physical custody.
However, it may not be necessary to show a material change in circumstances if you and your child’s other parent agree to a change in support terms. You may also seek a support modification without showing a change in circumstances if the amount of your child support order is below the state guidelines amount.
File A Motion To Modify Support Or Agreement
If you and your child’s other parent agree to a change in the amount of child support, you need to put your agreement in writing and file it with the court. Even if you agree to a change in the support amount, the child support obligation is not legally changed until a judge approves your agreement and issues an order for modification.
If your child’s other parent does not agree to a change in the amount of child support, you need to file a motion to modify support. After you request a modification, you will be required to attend a hearing to present evidence to the court demonstrating why your motion should be granted.
Attend The Modification Hearing
At the modification hearing, the judge will hear arguments from both sides. To succeed in your request for modification, you will provide evidence demonstrating a material change in circumstances that justifies changing the original support order.
Evidence often presented in modification hearings includes:
- Tax returns
- Witness testimony
- Unemployment statements
- Medical records for disability
- Documentation of custody and visitation arrangements
- Records of changes in benefits and expenses
Do Not Delay The Legal Process
A California family law attorney can help you through the legal process to change support obligations. A child support modification order will directly impact your financial well-being, and you are more likely to succeed on your motion to modify if an experienced attorney represents you.
It is critical to contact an attorney as soon as you experience a change in circumstances that justifies a modification. With very few exceptions, child support changes are not applied retroactively, which means that the change in support is only applicable going forward. The sooner you contact an attorney and request modification, the sooner you will benefit from the changes in support.
California Child Support Modification Attorney
If you or your child’s other parent have experienced a change in circumstances that may impact your child support rights and responsibilities, contact California child support modification attorney Bruce A. Mandel. We know that child support matters can be stressful and contentious, and we want to help.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at 424-250-9130 or reach out to us online, and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible. See our Facebook page for more information about our law firm and practice areas.