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When Will the Court Consider a Child Support Order Modification in California?

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California law is clear that parents are obligated to provide financial support for their children. When families are intact and live together, making sure the needs of the children are met is not necessarily complicated. The complications related to providing for children financially come once parents separate or divorce. To protect children from financial consequences, California will often order child support.

Before a divorce can be finalized, child support must be decided. Both parents are required to complete financial disclosures and offer the court other helpful information used to determine an appropriate amount of child support. In most divorce cases, the court orders the parent who earns the most or spends the least amount of time with the children to pay child support to the other parent.

When a child support order is finalized in a divorce, it is permanent unless a court approves a modification of child support at a later date. Either parent can request a modification of child support in the event of a significant change in circumstances that would alter the court’s calculations of child support.

When Will a Court Consider Modifying a Child Support Order?

When a life change affects essential factors that are considered when calculating child support, a parent can request a child support modification from the court. Some changes that the court may deem appropriate for a modification include: changes in income, incarceration, job loss, amount of time spent with the children, additional children or the child’s needs have changed.

When Will a Court NOT Consider Modifying a Child Support Order?

The court will not always authorize a petition to modify a child support order. The court will not accept some significant changes as a justifiable reason for changing a previous child support order. For instance, voluntarily leaving a job is not the equivalent of job loss. The court may see a voluntary departure from employment as an attempt to drive down your income to reduce child support obligations. If the court suspects this is the case, they will “impute” income to you (factor in your old income even though you are no longer receiving it) and reject the request for a child support modification.

The court will not typically consider a modification of a child support order unless the change is at least $50 or 20% of the existing order, whichever is less.

If you have questions about when the court will approve a modification of child support or if you need to petition the court for a child support modification, please get in touch with one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.

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