Child support payments are intended to last from the time that you and the other parent of a child live separately from one another (which may be from the child’s birth if you were never married) at least up until the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually 18 years old.
This is clearly a long period of time, and, in most cases, either your financial picture or that of the other parent can change significantly during that time.
In California, it is possible to petition the family law court to grant you an increase in the amount of child support to be paid by the other parent. Keep in mind that, even if you and the other parent voluntarily agree to an increase in child support and make a written record of that agreement, that agreement will not be enforceable by the court unless it is approved by the court.
Thus, whether the other parent is willing to grant the increase you are looking for or plans to fight it, you will still need to go to court to obtain the enforceable increase in support.
What Courts Are Looking For to Increase Child Support Payments
The legal term for getting an increase in your California child support payments is a “modification.” Before a court will grant you the modification upwards that you are seeking (assuming the other parent doesn’t voluntarily agree to it), the court will want to see that there has been a “material change in circumstances” since the time that the child support was first awarded.
In other words, you are probably not going to be successful in simply telling the court you want or need more money, or that raising kids was more expensive than you first thought when the original child support order was made. Instead, you will need to tell the court what has changed since the order was first made.
Examples of Changes in Circumstances in Child Support Cases
So what qualifies as a change in circumstances justifying a modification upwards in child support? Plenty of things.
Importantly, the change in circumstances could be a change primarily affecting: 1) you; 2) the other spouse; or 3) the children. The critical aspect is that the change in circumstances has to be significant and it should affect either the kids or each of the parent’s abilities to financially support the children.
Examples of changes in circumstances that could justify a modification upwards in a California child support case include, but are not limited to:
- The other parent now has a higher paying job
- The other parent has more financial resources than before
- You have lost your job, or are making less than before
- You are facing other expenses that take away from your ability to provide for the kids (e.g. you have experienced high medical bills)
- The children have new needs, such as higher medical or educational costs
Speak to a California family law attorney about the circumstances affecting your child support situation and what options you might have for modification.
Legal Guidance in Your California Child Support Modification Matter
To schedule a consultation regarding your situation and any questions you have about child support and other family law matters in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today.