Modifying a child support order

Once a child support order is finalized in the state of California, both parents are required to follow the provisions regardless of changes in how the parents feel about each other. However, if a parent's financial circumstances have changed, they can potentially request to have the child support order modified.

There are many reasons why a parent may request that the child support order be changed. In some cases, a parent's income may no longer be the same. If a parent lost their job or became incarcerated, for example, the parent may not be able to afford the child support payments that were ordered. A parent may have had another child, or the child's needs may have changed as they have gotten older.

If both parents agree to make changes regarding how much the noncustodial parent owes, they may write up a stipulation to the child support order and have it signed by the judge. Having a judge sign the stipulation protects both parents, so this step is recommended even if parents come to a verbal agreement. If parents cannot reach an understanding, one parent may file a motion asking for the court to change the existing child support order.

Even if parents get divorced, both are required to financially support their child. If a parent's financial circumstances change and they can no longer pay the amount they are required to, they can potentially request a change in the child support order. A family law attorney may assist with gathering all of the parent's financial documents, medical bills and other evidence that shows that the parent's circumstances have changed. If negotiations with the other parent outside of court do not work, the attorney may take the case in front of the judge so that the modification can be made.

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