Can I get my child support modified?

Parents who both pay and receive child support may experience life circumstances that may cause them to question the viability of changing the amount of the child support order.

Here in California, as elsewhere, the parent requesting the modification must be able to demonstrate to the family law court that they have experienced a significant change in circumstances since the court issued the current support order.

The exception is if the child support amount was below the amount stipulated in the child support guidelines. If such is the case, the recipient parent may seek an increase at any time with no change in circumstances. This applies regardless of whether the support amount was stipulated by both parents.

What might indicate a change of circumstances? For some parents, a job loss or other change that affects their material circumstances may be sufficient to request a modification of support.

But there are additional factors that could affect child support payments. They include:

  • The birth of another child
  • Incarceration
  • One parent begins to assume more of the custodial duties for the child
  • The needs of the child change substantially

Some parents can amicably resolve these matters between themselves. That's preferable, but it's still necessary to detail any changes in a child support modification that is submitted to and signed by the court.

Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to negotiate an agreement, as parents may have wildly disparate ideas about what events substantiate the proposed modifications. Under these circumstances, it will likely be necessary to return to court to litigate the matter in front of the judge.

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