The “right” amount of child support can change over the years. A job loss, a promotion, medical expenses and more children are just a few reasons why a previously reasonable sum may no longer be fair to all parties.
Fortunately, California courts recognize that a change in circumstances may justify changing a child support order. Too often, however, parents delay in requesting this change. This hesitancy can lead to significant back payments owed or difficult financial circumstances for the custodial parent.
Child support is always due in full and on time until the court issues a new order, with minimal exceptions. That is why it is important to know when to file for a modification of an existing child support order.
Reasons to request a modification of child support include:
- A parent involuntarily loses his or her job or one or both parents experience a significant change in income.
- The amount of time a child spends with each parent changes.
- A child’s needs change. The most common example is an increase in medical expenses.
- If a parent has had a child from another relationship since the last order was created.
- If there has been a change in any of the factors used to calculate child support.
Child support temporarily stops if one of the parents are incarcerated or institutionalized against their will for more than 90 days. Upon their release, however, the order takes effect again.
“Handshake agreements” are not enforceable
Even if the parents can agree to temporarily modify their child support order, it’s wise to make it legally enforceable. An informal arrangement can lead to uncertainty and potential problems. For example, if you both agree to suspend two months of child support payments, the custodial parent – the one receiving payment – is still owed that money under the law. If you are receiving the child support payments, you have every right to demand that money in the future.
Knowing when to change a child support order is vital to ensuring that you and your family are as financially stable as possible. If you have questions or wondering if filing for a modification is right for you, an experienced family law attorney is ready to discuss your situation.