Child Support Modification

Under California law, a parent’s duty to support their minor children is above all others. For various reasons, parents split up, and they eventually come to an agreement on—or the Court orders—custody, visitation, and child support. Fast forward one week, one month, one year, or further on, and one of the parents is likely to request a modification of child support.

Common Questions

I have been paying child support and:

  • I received a promotion at work and my salary increased. Do I have to pay more child support? (The other parent will ask: Will I receive more child support?)
  • The other parent received a promotion at work and his salary increased. Can I pay less child support? (The other parent will ask: Will I receive less child support?)
  • I lost my job. Can I pay less child support? (The other parent will ask: Will I receive less child support?)
  • The other parent lost their job. Do I have to pay more child support? (The other parent will ask: Will I receive more child support?)

These types of questions lead to what is called a “change of circumstances.” The change of circumstances can include occurrences other than a mere change of salary, but we will keep it simple for purposes of this blog post.

Maintaining Payments

Generally, the simple answer is the amount of child support you pay or receive does not change unless an agreement is made between the parents, or the Court enters a new order. Most of the time, parents disagree because one side is required to pay more or receive less. Under those circumstances, one parent will file a motion for modification of child support. A parent should not unilaterally decide to stop paying the required child support amount without a Court order, no matter the circumstances. This also means time is of the essence when circumstances change. We recommend contacting an attorney to determine the specific steps you should take to modify support.

Warning Regarding Requests

Sometimes, unfortunately, a parent will file for modification of child support and the outcome will be exactly the opposite from their request. For example, Father wants to decrease child support but the Court orders him to pay more for various reasons. One reason may be that the other parent’s salary also changed since the previous order was made. Another reason may relate to timeshare changes with the children, because the amount of time each parent spends with the children is a big factor in calculating support. You should contact an attorney to determine if attempting to modify child support is a good idea because your situation requires an analysis of the unique facts and circumstances. [Disclaimer]

Final Words

Many other circumstances affect child support, how it is calculated by the court, and whether the court can adjust support up or down from that calculation. It is important to know your rights, responsibilities, and options regarding child support. Our family law team at Naimish & Lewis can advise you on this and other dissolution and divorce related matters involving children. To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney at our firm, please contact us.