Child support in California can be extremely confusing and seem totally subjective. Most times, the payments are nowhere near enough for the parent with primary or full physical custody to clothe, feed, and shelter the child. For the non-custodial parent making the payments, it may seem like too much money paid out to unknown child expenses.
The courts often look at various factors when determining these payments. Once in place, they can be tough to change. However, situations change, and these court-ordered payments may need a modification. Because each case is unique, you need a skilled family law firm in Central California to ensure you receive or pay the appropriate amount of child support.
How Does California Calculate Child Support?
California uses a specific set of guidelines for calculating child support. These guidelines are based on a complex equation that takes into account two factors, namely:
- Income disparity between the two parents – the higher the disparity between the parents’ income, the higher the child support payments.
- Disparity of timeshare – the parent that spends the least time with the child will pay a large child support payment. In cases where parents have an equal timeshare, child support obligation is less.
Child support is meant to cover the child’s living expenses, such as:
- Healthcare costs
- Childcare costs
- Education, food, housing, clothing
- Extracurricular activities
- Travel costs
What Reasons Are Allowed to Modify or End Child Support Payments?
Although difficult to change, modification of child support is not far off. There are limited situations in which a parent can request child support modifications in California.
Your original Fresno child support order can be modified to increase or decrease the payment amounts if:
- One or both parents’ income has significantly changed – an increase or a decrease.
- Job loss by one parent
- Change in parenting time/visitation schedule. How much time each parent spends with the child determines the amount of child support payments.
- Incarceration or institutionalization of a parent against their will for more than 90 days. The payments would be suspended during this period.
- One parent gets married or has a new child in another relationship, which would impact their financial situation.
- A change in the child’s needs, e.g., a new regular healthcare cost or new educational obligation
- Other factors that affect the calculation of child support. For instance, things like the cost of insurance, taxes, union dues, etc.
No matter the situation, the party requesting the modification has the duty of showing the change in the situation. You’ll need proof of expenses, income, employment status, visitation arrangements, and more. Your Fresno child support modification lawyer will help you ensure your special circumstances have been considered during the hearing.
Parents can agree between themselves on how they’ll handle the new payments. However, they still need a judge to sign off the agreement and make sure it meets the requirements for a child support modification. So, any verbal agreement should be put on paper and have a judge certify it.
It’s always in your best interests to consult with a lawyer before taking any further steps. An experienced Fresno child support modification attorney can offer you legal guidance and even inform you if you have a case or not.
When Can I Request Modifications?
You should request a child support modification in Fresno once your situation changes. You don’t want to struggle with childcare costs if you were the custodial parent. Similarly, falling back on payments isn’t allowed because you will still be forced to pay all payments owed back in full even if your future payments are modified.
If the two of you cannot come to an agreement, you will have to attend a court hearing where the court will decide on your behalf. Get started by contacting a child support attorney near you to begin drafting your modification request.
When Can’t I Modify a Child Support Order in California?
The judge will not approve your request to modify child support if:
You Voluntarily Quit Your Job
If you intentionally left your job as a way to stop child support payments and the courts discover it, they will reject your request and impute your old income to you even though you’re no longer receiving it.
You Don’t Want to Pay
Only valid reasons to modify your child support will be accepted. Simply because you don’t think the payments are necessary isn’t enough reason to modify the order. Not paying child support payments can have severe consequences for someone, including jail time.
There Would Only Be a Slight Difference
Only a substantial change in a parent’s life or child’s needs can warrant child support modification. If the child support change would be less than $50 or less than 20% of the existing order, the courts will deny your request.
Can Parents Agree to No Child Support?
Under the California Family Code, once the courts order a parent to pay child support, the parent cannot legally refuse to do so. Financial support is an integral part of raising and taking care of a child. Therefore, waiving the right to child support is considered not to be in the child’s best interests.
An Experienced Attorney Helping You Determine Your Options
Child support cases are different. Some of the questions need specific answers to your specific situation. Therefore, it is crucial to take the necessary step and speak with a Fresno child support attorney for better outcomes.
If you are facing financial difficulties and need to make some changes to your California child support order, get in touch with a legal representative with the knowledge and experience to handle child support issues. Schedule a free consultation with us today by calling 559-277-7300.