California parents are legally obligated to financially support their children until they reach adulthood, but some parents may find it difficult to keep up with this obligation. Whether you cannot make payments due to new circumstances or you find that the current amount of support is not sufficient, you need to know how to modify an existing child support order.
State laws do allow for the modification of final support orders in certain circumstances. If you believe that you may be eligible, you will find it beneficial to work with an attorney who can evaluate your legal objectives, identify your options and help you secure a resolution to your concerns.
Eligibility for modification of support orders
Parents have the right to ask for a modification to a support order at any time, but that does not mean that a judge will grant it. It is only possible to attain a change in your child support order if the following apply to your situation:
- Income of one or both parents has changed
- One parent has lost his or her job
- One parent is in jail
- One of the parents has another child from another relationship
- There has been a significant change in visitation and parenting time
- The child's needs have significantly changed
- There has been a change in health care needs, child care costs or education
- There are changes in the formula originally used to calculate financial support
Parents who have since remarried or had other children may find that it is now impossible to pay the same amount of support that they used to. Likewise, a job loss, diagnosis of a new medical condition and a myriad of other factors can impact a parent's ability to pay regularly or survive off of current amounts.
Going through the proper legal channels
Two parents may verbally agree to a temporary change in support payments or be willing to negotiate on frequency of payments, but no verbal agreement is legally binding. Even two amicable parents must go through the appropriate legal channels to ensure the protection of their rights as one parent seeks a modification.
When things change and you need to adjust your child support order, you would be wise to seek experienced legal help instead of navigating these matters on your own. A lawyer can help you find a solution that is suitable for your unique situation and the needs of your family.