Can I modify a child support order?
A lot of work goes into making a child support order, whether it comes in the context of a divorce or of two parents who were never married. However, circumstances can change, making even the best-designed child support order suddenly unworkable. If a noncustodial parent loses a job, or some other serious financial setback, they can request a child support modification.
California courts calculate the amount of child support payments based on a number of factors, including the income of both of the parents. If income changes significantly for either parent, a court may agree to modify the child support order.
Ask the court for a change
A modification doesn’t happen automatically, however. A parent must request the modification.
Some other factors that can justify a modification include: a significant change in the amount of time each parent spends with the child; the birth of another child from another relationship; and significant changes in the needs of the child. There are other factors that can justify a modification, as well.
What happens if you don’t ask for a modification
If you are paying child support under a child support order and you have lost a job or suffered some other financial setback that makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to keep up with your payments, request a modification as soon as possible. If you fall behind in your payments, you can quickly get into even more serious financial trouble.
You will not be allowed to change your child support retroactively. You may only change your child support order going forward. If you are two months behind on your payments when the court modifies your order, you must still make up those payments at the previous level. It’s also important to note that the courts are often backed up with cases, and it may take the court a while to review your request.
What’s more, California has many ways to enforce a child order on parents who have fallen behind. These include wage garnishment and suspension of professional licenses.
If you have suffered a financial setback and fear falling behind on your payments, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible about requesting a modification.