When a child support order is made, the State of California has the best interests of the child in mind, first and foremost. This does not change. However, the circumstances of the supporting parent, the custodial parent and even the child might change as time passes. It is with this in mind that one person or the other might seek to have a modification to the agreement. Before the case boils over into a full blown child support dispute, it is important to understand what circumstances have to be in place for changes to be made.
In the event that a judge has made an order with an amount that falls beneath the child support guidelines, there can be a request to change this at any juncture. With that, there does not have to be a change in circumstances to justify the modification. Other reasons that a modification might be requested include: the income of one or both of the parents changing; a parent has lost a job; a parent has been incarcerated; a parent has a child from another relationship; there are changes to the amount of time the child spends with one parent or the other; the child's needs have changed and it might be more or less costly for his or her care; and there have been changes to the way child support is determined.
In some cases, the parents are able to put together an agreement on their own without judicial intervention. This is often a best case scenario. If there is no agreement made, then a motion must be filed seeking the modification. In order for the changes to go into effect, the judge must sign an order for it. Without that, the changes are not legal. If a parent is incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized, this can lead to other reasons for a modification and will be discussed in a later post.
Parents who have a child but are no longer together need to understand the importance of child support payments being made in full and on time. However, just as the marriage or relationship did not work out as planned, there are times that a child support modification is a viable option for either a brief period or permanently. When seeking a modification, speaking to an attorney experienced in California law can help to achieve the desired ends.