Child Support Modification
Riverside Child Support Modification Attorney
Changing a child support order, known as child support modification, happens when one or both parents experiences a change in their life that requires them to modify their child support order after divorce. Sometimes both parents can reach an agreement about a change in the child support order, which they can then have approved by a judge. Also, if the original amount of support is below the state’s guidelines, then the amount of child support can be changed at any time. If both spouses cannot agree on their own, and if the original amount of support is at the state’s guidelines, they can request a court hearing to determine a new child support amount, where the parents will have to show a reasonable change in circumstances.
Reasonable change in circumstances
The courts ask parents to show a reasonable change in circumstances in order to qualify for child support modifications, meaning that they have to show that something in their lives have changed that affects the way child support is determined. There are many things that apply, for instance:
- Either of the parents has experienced a change in income, due to reduced work hours or a job change
- A parent has lost their job
- A parent has been incarcerated
- A parent had another child from a new relationship
- There has been a change in the child’s needs and costs, including costs for health care, child care, or education
- There has been changes in how much time the child spends with each parent
- A parent is deployed to active military service
Depending on the nature of the change in circumstances, a child support modification can be temporary or permanent. Atemporary modification might happen due to a medical emergency, for the child, or for one of the parents that renders them unable to pay or requires increased child support. A permanent modification might happen because of the reasons listed above, or due to a cost of living increase, either parent becoming disabled, or a drastic increase or decrease in a parent’s income. A permanent modification remains in effect until support is no longer necessary or until the support is modified at a later time due to another change in circumstances. There are many reasons that might warrant a child support modification. If you are not sure if your circumstances qualify, consult with your family law attorney.
You can request a child support modification at any time after divorce. However, it is recommended that you request a modification as soon as possible after the change in circumstances. Sometimes, a parent will wait to file for child support modification, because they think the change in circumstances is temporary, they are stressed about other things in their life, or they are in a situation that makes filing court papers difficult, such as jail or prison. They may think they will deal with changing child support orders later when it is more convenient, but this can be a big mistake.
This is because child support orders cannot be changed retroactively, meaning, if you lose your job and do not change the amount of child support order until a few months later, the court will not go back to the date you lost your job and lower child support then. This could result in an arrearage, which is past due child support that must be paid. If you cannot pay your child support arrears, the other parent can take measures against you to collect support, such as wage garnishment or property seizure.
How do I get a child support modification?
The process for getting a child support modification contains the following general steps:
- Fill out a Request for Order form and an Income Expense Declaration form.
- Have your forms reviewed by your family law attorney, who can help you fill out the forms and make sure you filled them out correctly. Your attorney can also guide you through any steps in the process and answer any questions you may have.
- Make copies of your forms, for you and the other parent. The original copy is for the court.
- File your forms with the court clerk, which may include a filing fee. The clerk will give you your court date.
- Serve your papers to the other parent, meaning the forms must be delivered to the other parent by a third party that is at least 18 years of age.
- File your Proof of Service form, which proves that the other spouse was served. This form may again require assistance from your family law attorney.
- Attend your court date.
- After the court hearing, the judge will sign a court order that modifies the child support. The court order will be prepared either by a court clerk, or by you and your family law attorney.
What help is available?
For assistance in any matters or child support, you can contact you Local Child Support Agency (LCSA). Your LCSA can help you with filling out any forms, serving forms to your spouse, filing fees, collecting child support, and other matters. You can tell your LCSA that you want a review and adjustment of a child support order, and they can help contact your spouse to agree on new terms, or help you begin the modification process.
It is important to note that the LCSA deals with a lot of cases, and they are required by law to go through necessary steps when filing papers. They can take up to 180 days to complete and adjustment process and get an order from the court. If you cannot wait for a child support modification, because you will accumulate arrears, you can begin the process yourself with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
The Law Office of Heath L. Baker is an established family law firm that specializes in issues of divorce, child support, child custody, and others. Do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Heath L. Baker with any questions or for assistance with modification of child support orders.