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When a child support order can be modified

Californians who are ending a marriage and have children will generally have child support as part of the final order. The amount that is paid is calculated based on myriad factors. In many instances, however, the paying parent or the receiving parent would like to have the child support order changed. Either can make this request or the local child support agency (LCSA) can do so as well.

For this to be done, it must be shown that a change in circumstances has taken place since the previous order.A judge might have ordered an amount that is less than the guidelines indicate. If that is the case, the request to change the order can be made at any time. In such an instance, there does not need to be a change in circumstances. The agreement that did not follow the guidelines could have been made via an agreement between the parties. Even then, it can be changed by request.

The request for the change can be for a variety of reasons from a change in income of the parents; job loss; a parent being incarcerated; a parent having a child from another relationship; a significant change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent; the needs of the child; and if there were changes to the factors that were used to determine the child support amount. Parents can agree on their own to change the amount, but if they do not agree, a motion must be filed with the court. It is wise to get it in writing and signed by a judge.

Regarding incarceration, the payments will be suspended while the supporting parent is in jail, prison or is institutionalized against his or her will and this lasts longer than 90 days. The payments will resume once the person is released. It is possible to ask the court to change the payment amount because the paying parent does not work or cannot afford to make the payments as they were before incarceration. Exceptions include those who can make the payments while incarcerated or institutionalized; those who were incarcerated due to domestic violence against the receiving parent; or being put in jail for failure to pay child support.

One of the biggest divorce legal issues that comes up is related to with child support. Even after the agreement has been made, a dispute can still happen. Changing the order is possible, but it is vital to know how to go about it. A lawyer who is experienced with divorce and child support can help whether it is coming to the original order or changing it.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Changing a Child Support Order," accessed on Dec. 25, 2017

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