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Understanding when child support modifications may be available

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to seek the modification of a child support order. In general, an existing child support order may be modified in some situations. An existing child support order may be modified if there is a significant change in the earnings of either parents (either a significant increase or decrease in earnings of one or the other, or both, parents); there is a change in custody or a change in the amount of time the child spends with each of the parents; in circumstances of a military deployment or a change in any other factor that may impact child support guidelines.

A child support order can be reviewed in circumstances of a major change such as losing a job, beginning a new job or significant custody or visitation changes. Either parent can make a request to modify a child support order. The parent making the request must do so in writing and state why the current amount of child support is too high or is too low. When submitting a child support modification request to the local child support agency, a number of different pieces of information may be required including income and expenses; unemployment, disability or retirement income information; child care costs; medical insurance information; custody and visitation information; as well as additional pieces of information depending on the circumstances.

Certain changes may be justified. If the local child support agency determines that the requirements for a child support modification have been fulfilled, it will request that the court modify the child support order. If the local child support agency determines that requirements for a child support modification are not met, the parent requesting the modification may still make the request of the court. The parents can also agree to a modified child support amount.

The family law legal process is available to assist parents experiencing different circumstances, including parents receiving child support as well as parents paying child support who may also be struggling to meet required child support payments. Different options are available to assist with the collection or modification of child support which is why it is helpful for parents to be aware of, and familiar with, the child support and child support modifications processes.

Source: childsup.ca.gov, "Child Support Handbook," Accessed Oct. 30, 2015

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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