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Child support modification possible when circumstances change

Many fathers in California have to work multiple jobs in order to be able to pay their court-ordered child support, and may not be aware that they could have options if their financial circumstances change. When the amount of child support to be paid is initially determined, the income of both parents and the time the noncustodial parent will spend with the child are considered. Other needs that each child may have are also considered, like education or daycare, along with special needs and health insurance. What some parents may not realize is that they could have the option to seek a court-approved modification of their child support payments if their circumstances change.

It is not uncommon for the circumstances of the paying parent to change. He or she may remarry a person who has one or more children, and if the individual is already working more than one job, it may be very taxing on the new family. Likewise, the custodial parent may remarry, and the need for the full amount of child support may no longer exist. Recently, more and more parents are aiming to share equal time with their children; which can be another way to potentially reduce the amount that the noncustodial parent has to pay.

The paying parent may want to discuss the situation with the other parent, and they may reach an amicable agreement. If the communication proves difficult, they may seek the assistance of a mediator in order to communicate through an objective third party. Together they can re-examine the amount required by the custodial parent and possibly agree to a lower amount.

When an agreement is reached, or if the parties cannot reach a mutual decision, the noncustodial parent should request a hearing in the family court to get the change approved by a judge. A modified child support order will then be enforceable and avoid legal disputes in the future. California parents who find themselves unable to pay the full amount of the initial child support order may wish to explore their options to better understand what to expect when applying for a modification in a family court.

Source:, "Child Support: How Much is Too Much?", Julie Garrison, April 17, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
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Phone: 916-905-4805
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