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What to consider before I ask for child support modification?

Both custodial and noncustodial parents in California may request modification of the amount of child support they pay or receive. Such a step is commonly taken because the parent who is obligated to pay child support has had significant adjustments to his or her circumstances. Custodial parents often seek modification because they learned that their former spouse received a significant increase in salary. However, such a step needs careful consideration, as the modification you may want is not granted automatically.

Many parents have been disappointed by a court ruling because they did not do the necessary calculations prior to filing the request. Even if you did calculations according to your financial circumstances, without accurate details of the other party's finances, your calculations might not be determinative. A parent wanting his child support obligation reduced may go through the complete application process and have the court rule that the amount should be increased rather than decreased -- or it may be reduced by a few dollars only. The same could happen to a spouse asking for more money, ending up with a lower amount ordered by the court.

There are guidelines available for individuals who want to do their own calculations. It is also possible to obtain accurate, up-to-date information related to the other parent's income and expenses. However, the whole process may be intimidating and/or confusing, and it may be beneficial to consult with a family law attorney who can explain the procedures.

If you can provide evidence of significantly changed circumstances, whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent in California, you have the right to pursue child support modification. The best first step is to gain an understanding of your legal rights and a professional assessment of your unique circumstances. Visit our family law website for more information.

Source:, "Changing a Child Support Order", , Sept. 10, 2014

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