Child Support Modifications

January 31, 2024 | By Doppelt and Forney
Child Support Modifications

When a married couple with minor children divorces, the issue of whether either party owes child support must be addressed. It's important to understand, though, that the support order issued during the divorce proceedings is not set in stone.

Rather, as the financial resources of parents and the needs of children can change over time, child support is subject to modification to guideline at any time with a written motion called a Request for Order. This is mandatory to reserve retroactivity to the date of filing for any modification of the support order either downwards or upwords. This motion must be accompanied by an Income and Expense Declaration with the mandatory attachments.

If you require assistance with a child support modification proceeding, the San Diego child support lawyers at Doppelt & Forney, APLC are here to help. We offer free consultations, either in-person or virtually, to parents in numerous San Diego County communities who are dealing with family law matters.

What Circumstances Warrant a Child Support Modification?

In California, divorced parents have an obligation to provide support for their minor child until the minor is age 18 and graduated high school or 19 unless special needs. If special needs, then different rules apply for duration of support. It is important to note that child support cannot be enforceably waived, regardless of whether one parent has greater financial resources than the other or if one or both parents remarry.

The amount of support is determined by applying a specific formula is outlined in California law and is determined, in San Diego Family Law Court, with a computer program called the Disso Master. This formula takes into account each parent's income and various factors such as the number of children, the amount of time spent with the non-custodial parent, spousal support paid from another marriage, child support paid from another relationship, health insurance costs, applicable union dues, and mandatory retirement benefits, if applicable as well as many other factors. Child support calculations are based on an understanding of the parents' financial status at a specific point in time, however, which is subject to change. As such, the law allows for modifications of child support orders.

Since child support obligations typically arise out of a court order, modifications to child support generally require court intervention and approval. Neither parent has the right to independently deviate from the order, even in cases of sudden events such as job loss or if they otherwise lack the funds needed to provide support.

While parents can mutually agree on a modification, the agreement must still be submitted to the court for approval. Absent formal action by a court, the existing order remains in effect.

A party seeking a modification must demonstrate that the current child support order is not in accord with the guidelines and also some change in the input for the calculation from the current support amount. Such changes can result from various factors, including job loss, job promotion or demotion, illness, injury, or disability of a parent or child, incarceration of a parent, or a change in custody.

It is important to note that voluntarily taking a lower-paying job for personal reasons, such as reduced stress or better hours, may not necessarily lead to a downward modification. The court expects parents to fulfill their child support obligations, and it may impute income to a parent if it determines that the parent is not earning income consistent with their earning capacity. The law is clear that child support is the primary obligation.

Since child support modification proceedings can take time, it is crucial for parents facing difficulties to take prompt action in seeking a modification. Even a temporary job loss may last longer than expected, and there is no guarantee that a new position will provide the same income or allow a parent to catch up on any arrears. As in the beginning of this article, you must file a Request for Order to ask for retroactivity.

Obtain Comprehensive Guidance from a Child Support Lawyer in San Diego

If you need to pursue a modification of child support, seeking legal advice is essential to understand your options and anticipate the likely outcome. Failing to meet child support obligations can have serious implications for your overall financial status.

For a free consultation, either in-person or virtually, with an attorney, reach out to Doppelt & Forney, APLC. Our child support lawyers have provided diligent representation to residents of San Diego, Carlsbad, Vista, Chula Vista, Oceanside, La Jolla, Point Loma, Ramona, Coronado, Del Mar, El

FAQ About Divorce Involving Minor Children How to Choose a Divorce Lawyer?

When choosing a divorce lawyer, it's important to consider their experience and knowledge of family law, and track record of successful cases. Research their reputation, seek recommendations, and schedule initial consultations to assess their compatibility with your needs and goals.

What Will My Divorce Lawyer Ask Me?

Your divorce lawyer will likely ask you a range of questions to gather essential information about your marriage, assets, children, and goals. Expect inquiries about the reasons for the divorce, financial details, child custody preferences, and any relevant legal documents or agreements.

What Will My Divorce Lawyer Need?

Your divorce lawyer will typically require various documents and information to proceed with your case, including marriage certificates, financial records, tax returns, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, documentation of assets and debts, and any existing court orders or agreements related to the divorce or children.