When Can I Modify Child Support Payments?

We all want our kids to receive the proper care. One of the best ways to do this is through child support. It is not a payment to the other parent. The money is for the children alone. It’s comforting to know you can contribute to their well-being with these payments.

However, despite our best efforts, we can sometimes find ourselves unable to keep up. This causes trouble on many levels. It can affect the other parent, forcing them to use more of their own money. It can also put you in a legal bind, suffering consequences for missing payments.

Luckily, you can alter child support when you’re falling behind. If you’ve experienced a major life change, or if your original support order was inaccurate, you may be able to modify your payments.

Major Life Changes

We can’t always control where life takes us. Events can disrupt your stability and your finances. If you’ve experienced a life change that is significant and semi-permanent, you can have your child support orders reviewed.

Job Changes

If you’ve lost a job or been demoted, you may be eligible for a child support modification. Keep in mind, however, your request can be denied. Reviewers will look at more than just the change. They must also know the details of that change.

If you left your job willingly or took a lower-paid position, you may not be eligible for a modification. Similarly, if you were fired due to poor performance, you could be denied. Reviewers need to see that the situation is not your fault.

Career advancement can have the same effect. If you find yourself making far more money, your ex can petition to have you pay more in child support.

Your Former Spouse Remarries

A new marriage alters finances. California considers most assets to be owned by both spouses. If your spouse remarries, and that person takes position as a stepparent, you may be able to have your payments altered. Essentially, you can make the argument that this new adult is financially contributing to the child’s welfare, so you can make a smaller contribution.

This request can be denied, however. Your reviewers may argue that you are still the rightful, legal parent of the children. Your obligation, they could claim, does not change. If your ex remarries, and you need help paying child support, speak with a lawyer. They may be able to help you craft a reasonable argument for modification.

You Have a New Baby

Child support decisions are made based on the number of children you have. Having another child can be an easy argument to make for modification.

You Have a New Child Support Order

Like having a new baby, paying for another child changes the number of kids you support. Paying for another child is a reasonable plea for alteration.

Your Custody or Visitation Changes

Child support orders are based on a few different things. First, the court considers the income of each parent. It assumes that the custodial parent uses their income to support the kids, and it orders the non-custodial parent to pay the rest.

Next, the court considers the time each person spends with the kids. In California, custody is based on percentages. If you have a low percentage of custody, say 20%, it’s assumed that you spend less money on the kids. Therefore, you may be ordered to pay a greater amount of child support.

If you gain a greater amount of time with the kids, more of your income goes directly to feeding, clothing, and entertaining them. When this happens, you may be eligible to have your child support payments reduced.

You Are Suddenly Disabled

Injuries and disabilities are costly. If you are hurt, or an illness renders you disabled, more of your resources go to maintaining your quality of life. In this case, you may need your child support payments changed.

You Are Incarcerated

If you are sent to jail or prison, you do not make a significant income. Understanding this, the state allows for child support modifications. Be careful, however. Criminal sentences are often considered the fault of the convicted, and a stubborn reviewer can deny your request based on their biases.

You Are Deployed for Active Military Service

This is a tricky situation. Sometimes, deployed troops are paid more money to cover their expenses abroad. To have support modification approved, you must prove that your deployment negatively impacted your finances.

Appealing a Bad Decision

The original, court-ordered child support may be incorrect. You may have had trouble paying from the start, regardless of any life changes. If the original order is unbearable and unrealistic, you can have your finances reviewed for a modification.

How to Modify Child Support

Do It Yourself

With any divorce decision, you can always work out a new plan with your former spouse. If your relationship is amicable, the two of you can create a “Stipulated Agreement” and file it with the courts.

Go Through a Child Support Agency

Child support agencies can review your case, free of charge. You must gather your documents and file an appeal. If the agency agrees that change is necessary, it will appeal to the court for you. The court may deny this request. If so, you must appeal to the court directly.

Child support organizations can help even when your ex is out-of-state. Just as they would locally, they can appeal to the out-of-state court on your behalf.

Go Back to Court

Your last option is to hire an attorney and take the matter to court. In most situations, this will involve only you and your lawyer, dealing with the court directly. If there is a dispute, however, your former spouse could get involved. This situation involves a lot of back-and-forth, possibly concluding with your appearing in court together.

Call Us for Help

We are here to help those having trouble managing their child support payments. If you want to negotiate a new deal, we can provide mediation. Our firm can also help make your case with a child support agency. If necessary, we can help you take the matter back to court as well.

For a consultation, call (949) 565-4158 or fill out our online contact form.