In California, child support orders can be modified at any time the court deems necessary.
Child support must be paid according to an existing order until such time as the order is modified by the court, and child support orders can never be modified retroactively, so if you believe that a modification to your child support arrangements may be warranted, it is in your best interest to act as quickly as possible. Even if a parent is simply unable meet his or her current child support obligations, the payments will become a debt “in arrears”, and this amount can never be discharged, even in bankruptcy.
In some situations, parents are able to voluntarily agree to a change in child support arrangements. Such an agreement must be approved by a judge. In cases where the amount is substantially lower than the guideline amount, the best interest of the child must be demonstrated to the court. It is important to have the representation of a qualified San Francisco or San Mateo family law attorney in such negotiations, and to make sure that your interests are fully protected.
In cases where a voluntarily change in child support arrangements is not feasible, a parent or their San Francisco child support attorney may ask the court for a modification hearing. A modification hearing can be granted based upon a substantial change in the circumstances of the original child support order. Such changes of circumstance that may be accepted by the court to warrant modification to a child support order can include:
- A parent has produced or adopted new children, (not including stepchildren.)
- The monthly income of a parent has changed substantially.
A parent has become unemployed. (If you believe that modification is warranted due to your loss of employment, you must apply to the court in order to receive a reduction, which will not be retroactive, so it is in your best interest to contact a family law attorney right away.)
In such cases, the other parent can also file a motion and present evidence to warrant that the court order a mental and/or physical examination of the unemployed parent to help inform the court of the unemployed parent’s earning capacity, known as a vocational examination. If such a motion is granted, (or if the unemployed parent voluntarily submits to examination), and earning capacity is determined to exist, a judge may order child support based on the unemployed parent’s earning capacity whether or not they are employed.
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child has changed substantially.
- There was an error in the original guideline amount calculation upon which the child support order was based.
- The medical costs of the child have increased (or decreased) substantially.
- A substantial change in travel expenses has arisen related to changes in visitation arrangements.
- A parent has incurred substantial financial hardship, such as health expenses or catastrophic business or investment losses.
Contact Lurkis, Joyce & Del Bove today
The dedicated, experienced child support attorneys at the family law firm of Lurkis, Joyce & Del Bove, LLP represent clients in child support proceedings and all matters related to child custody & parentage actions throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.