Modifying an existing child support order when life changes
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Modifying an existing child support order when life changes

No one can predict exactly how their life will unfold. People in a once-happy marriage may ultimately divorce. And, if they have children, generally the noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent for the financial care of the child.

An initial child support order may work out well for months or even years. However, events may happen that make it difficult if not impossible for the paying parent to meet their child support obligations. For example, the paying parent may have lost their job or the child’s needs may change. In addition, sometimes an existing child support order becomes unfair, for example, if there is a significant modification to a child custody and visitation order, and the paying parent is now spending more time with the child. In such circumstances, the paying parent may seek a modification of an existing child support order.

If the paying parent wishes to modify an existing child support order, they can move the court to change the order. It will need to be shown that there has been a “change in circumstances” warranting the modification. However, it is important to note that if the parents previously agreed in writing to a child support amount that is lower than the state’s guideline amount, and this agreement was approved by the court, the party seeking a modification does not need to show that there has been a change in circumstances.

In addition, it is important for a paying parent to continue making child support payments to the best of their ability while seeking a modification. That is because, until a judge signs off on a new child support order, the current order still stands and any missed payments will be considered delinquencies. Child support in California cannot be changed retroactively.

Sometimes a child support order works for a while, but due to life’s twists and turns, it may eventually need to be modified. While this post spoke specifically of paying parents, the receiving parent can also pursue a child support modification under the same guidelines. This post is for educational purposes only, so those who need legal advice regarding child support modifications will want to take the steps necessary to better understand this topic.

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