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Child Support Modifications in California

Overview of Child Support Modification Laws in California

Life is not stagnant. Things change and that change can occur in the blink of an eye. For example, you could receive a call from your supervisor and be told that you’ve lost your job. Or, you could be driving to the grocery store and get into a catastrophic car accident that results in you being unable to work. When a material change in your circumstances occurs, it is possible to request a modification of your child support obligations.

How to Modify a Child Support Order

As mentioned, if you are seeking to modify a child support order, you need to prove that a material change in your circumstances occurred after the court’s original support order. Common examples of why a parent will request a modification to a child support order includes the following:

  • Change in your income
  • Change in the other parent’s income
  • Change in parenting time for either parent.

Material Change in Income

A change in income basically means that your income, or the other parent’s income has notably increased or decreased. The increase in your income could be due to a promotion at work, a new business venture, receiving an inheritance, etc. A decrease in income is often the result of a sudden job loss, closure of a business, etc.

Material Change in Parenting Time

A change in parenting time can also serve as the basis to modify a child support order. For example, let’s assume the parent paying child support parent now spends more time with the child than they did at the time of the original child support order. If the original support order was based on a lesser amount of time, the supporting parent has the right to seek a modification to ensure they maintain the additional visitation time with their child.

How to Effectively Prepare for a Court Hearing on Your Child Support Modification Request

When you request a modification to your child support obligations, you need to be prepared to present evidence to a judge that shows you have encountered the aforementioned material change in circumstances. It’s not enough to simply say that your circumstances have changed. For example, if you are seeking a modification due to a substantial change in your income, you will likely need to present the following types of evidence:

  • Copies of recent paystubs
  • If you lost your job, a copy of the termination notice
  • Copy of an unemployment check
  • Copy of your most recent tax return

Stipulated Child Support Order vs. Order Entered at Contested Hearing

It is important to note that child support orders can be modified regardless of whether it was a stipulated order or an order that resulted from a contested hearing.

It generally does not matter whether the order either parent seeks to modify is a stipulated order, which means it was by agreement, or an order that resulted after a contested hearing. Either is subject to modification.

What to Expect If You are Seeking a Decrease in Your Child Support Obligations While the Other Parent Wants You to Pay More

In some instances, especially when the parents are not on good terms and the support order was the product of a contested hearing, you may be seeking to reduce your monthly support obligations while the other parent wants you to pay more per month. In this scenario, a judge will consider the evidence presented by both you and the other parent. Generally, the judge will base their decision on whatever is in the best interest of the child.

Have Questions About Child Support Laws in California?

If you have questions about your legal rights and obligations pertaining to modifying a child support order, Castro Law Offices is ready and able to help. Castro Law Offices is a premier California law firm specializing in child support issues, divorce, child custody, and all other issues concerning domestic relations. Castro Law Offices is based in Novato, California, but is ready and able to provide legal services and advice to clients in and around Marin County including Novato, San Rafael, Greenbrae, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Sausalito, Larkspur, West Marin, Ross, Mill Valley and Corte Madera. Contact Castro Law Offices today to schedule a confidential consultation.