Modification of Child Support FAQ: I need Help Modifying a Child Support Order OC, California?
Do You Need Help Modifying a Child Support Order in Southern California?
When it comes to family law, child support is an important part of a child’s life when his or her parents do not live together. Under California law, child support is required for all children. Every child has the right to receive financial support from both parents, and every parent is legally obligated to support all of their children financially.
However, as the child’s needs change, the parents lives change, and the world economy changes, the need for child support and the amount of child support that is needed can vary. There are some circumstances under which a child support order can be modified or terminated.
Until a child support order is legally modified or terminated, however, it can be legally enforced under California law. Child support orders cannot be modified or terminated retroactively, so it is important to take action as soon as possible when circumstances change a and a child support order is no longer sustainable, necessary, or adequate.
This brief overview of child support modification in California can help you understand the basics of the law. Remember to speak with a qualified lawyer as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns about your child support order.
What is Child Support?
In California, child support is a way for a parent to fulfill his or her legal obligation of financially supporting a child, usually through the age of 18. A child support order is a legally binding document that has been signed by a judge and can be enforced by the courts. Child support orders contain the terms of the order, which usually include which parent will pay, when payments are due, how much is owed, and more details depending on the unique family situation.
Child support pays for things that a child needs. This can include the cost of health care, education, day care, traveling from one parent to the other, and more.
When a parent refuses to pay child support after a child support order has been issued, that parent can face severe consequences, including added interest to back child support, additional fines, jail time, contempt of court, wage garnishments, etc.
If either parent is not happy with the existing child support order, he or she may wish to modify the existing order. In order for a child support modification to be approved by a judge, there will need to be a significant change in circumstances. The same method for creating the original child support order is used in determining the new child support order, so there needs to have been a change in one of the factors that determined the original order for a new and different order to be created.
Can I Modify my Child Support Order?
In order to modify a child support order, you will need to understand how child support orders are created, and determine whether there has been a change in circumstances that makes the change necessary and possible.
When parents cannot agree on a child support plan, child support orders are created according to a standard California child support guideline.
A child support guideline factors in the following items:
• The current income of both parents, or the earning potential of both parents,
• Earnings of both parents outside of their daily work,
• The number of children the two parents share together,
• The number of children each parent has with other people,
• The amount of time that each parent spends with the child - this may be determined by a child custody or visitation order,
• The tax filing status of both parents, which may depend on whether they are married, legally separated, in other relationships, etc.,
• Any support the children are receiving from other places,
• The cost of health insurance for the children, especially if the child has a health condition,
• Any mandatory costs that either parent has on a regular basis, like retirement contributions,
• The cost of other things the child needs, like day care,
• Other factors may also be included, depending on the unique situation of every child and family.
A child support order can usually be changed if circumstances have changed one of the factors listed above that are used in calculating child support. This might occur if either parent’s income has changed, or if one parent has lost his or her job. It might happen if one parent is incarcerated or otherwise detained, or if a child custody order is changed significantly, like when one parent moves to another state. Sometimes, a child’s needs change drastically due to health care costs or other changes in the child’s life.
If you are requesting a modification to an existing child support order because you are unable to afford the current payments, or you are unable to support your child based on the child support you are currently receiving, it is always best to act sooner rather than later. Child support cannot be changed retroactively, so the existing child support is valid and both parents can be held to those terms until the order is legally modified. Many attorneys in Southern California offer free initial consultations, so you may be able to get some legal advice without any cost to you. A lawyer can help you estimate whether the new amount calculated would be higher or lower than the current amount, and whether it is worth it to request a modification.
How do I Change an Existing Child Support Order?
If you and your child’s other parent can agree on a new child support order, you can come up with a potential child support modification outside of court and present it to the judge for approval.
If you wish to avoid going through court yourself, California has a local child support agency in every county. The child support agency’s job is to ensure that every child is receiving the appropriate amount of support from his or her parents no matter where the child may be. If the parents do not support the child, that financial backing becomes the responsibility of the state and of the taxpayers. Your local child support agency will represent your child and his or her best interests, so filing a case through the local child support agency will not provide you with legal counsel. You will be legally bound to the decision made in the court through the agency. Keep in mind that until the new order has been approved, the old one is still valid. In some cases, your local child support agency may take up to six months for a modification.
You can also ask the court to modify your existing child support order on your own, or with the help of a child support attorney. You will need to start with two forms: a Request for Order, and an Income and Expense Declaration or a Financial Statement. Your lawyer can help you determine which form you need for your case. He or she can also make sure that your forms are filled out correctly and completely, which is important so that your case can go through.
You will need to file your forms with the clerk at the court, at which time you should receive a court date for child support determination. Usually, mediation is not required in child support cases.
The other parent has a legal right to be notified of the case pending in court because they are also involved. Your next step is to serve your papers on the child’s other parent. This means that someone who is not involved in the case and who is over 18 years old needs to ensure that the other parent has a copy of the forms, and file a proof of service with the court. There are several ways you can serve the other parent, and there are various deadlines for different forms, so make sure to discuss this with your attorney.
Next, you will need to attend your hearing. Always bring copies of all of your forms with you to the hearing. The judge should make a decision regarding your child support modification.
After the hearing, ask your lawyer if you have further steps. Depending on where you filed, you may or may not need to prepare the court order for the judge to sign.
Orange County Child Support Modification Attorney
If you have any questions about your existing child support order, or if you are unable to afford it or to support your child on the existing order, always speak to an attorney. Child support is a serious commitment, and it is a financial obligation that does not go away - even in bankruptcy.
All children in California have a legal right to receive financial support from both parents. If there has been a change in circumstances that affects your child support order, you can apply to have it legally modified. Contact the lawyers at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation and get a start on your child support modification.