As anyone who has experienced a divorce can attest, life is not certain. That observation applies to many post-divorce situations, including the payment of child support. As many people in Sacramento have come to realize, the completion of the formal divorce proceeding does not always mean that disagreements and court appearances will never happen. The circumstances in which divorced parents and their children find themselves after divorce cannot always be predicted, and, for this reason, California law has procedures for modifying orders for child support.
The ex-spouse who wants to modify the child support order must bring a motion before the court and demonstrate that circumstances have changed since the entry of the last child support order. The change can take any of several forms:
- The income of one or both parents has changed, or one parent has become unemployed
- One parent has been incarcerated
- One parent has become the parent of a child with a different partner
- The child has experienced serious medical problems
- Other significant financial changes are affecting the living or visitation arrangements of the child
If the parents can agree on a resolution, the new arrangement can be incorporated in a stipulation and presented to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree, the matter will be presented to the court for resolution.
In all contested cases, the court will select a result that best serves the interests of the child. Sometimes, support payments are reduced if the payor parent is undergoing financial struggles, or support payments will be increased if the payor parent is earning more money or has experienced an unanticipated financial windfall.
Anyone seeking to modify a support order, either by seeking a reduction in payments to a former spouse or by increasing the amount of support payments, may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney for advice on whether the changed circumstances will justify a change in support payments.
Source: California Courts The Judicial Branch of California, “Changing a Child Support Order,” accessed on Feb. 19, 2018