There are a variety of reasons why a child support amount ordered may be unreasonable for the payor to pay each month. California child support is calculated off of a standard statewide formula that takes into account mainly parental income and the residential time distribution of the child between the two parents. Both of these significant factors can easily change after the date the order is put into effect.

As children grow up, the time they spend with each parent can change and parental income often changes over the years. Either of these changes can result in child support being raised or lowered, according to the change in circumstances. Child support can only be change, or modified, if there is a demonstrable and significant change in circumstances that results in the amount ordered being unreasonably low or high.

That being said, you cannot modify your child support order simply because you feel it is too high. In most child support cases, the amount ordered will not deviate from the standard calculation. So, unless your financial circumstances significantly change or the residential time distribution is greatly affected, your child support may not lower.

A Demonstrable and Significant Change in Circumstances is Required for a Modification

In California, child support calculations take several factors into account. The primary two are parental income and the residential time distribution of the child between the two parents. However, as families grow and age, so do their structure and income levels.

California permits child support modification when there is a demonstrable and significant change in circumstances resulting in the amount ordered being unreasonably low or high.  A child’s legal guardian can petition the court for a modification on their own, with a private attorney, or with the help of the local child support agency.

Modifications in child support are typically permissible when a parent:

  • Loses their job
  • Gains additional or new employment
  • Undergoes a significant increase or decrease in income
  • Has a custody or visitation change
  • Has a change in family size
  • Becomes disabled
  • Goes to jail or prison
  • Is actively deployed on military duty

The requesting parent will need proof of the following when requesting a child support modification:

  • Income and expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Medical insurance
  • Disability status
  • Incarceration
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Retirement income
  • The current custody and support orders

Upon review of the above information, along with the other parent’s financial and custodial information, the family court will decide whether a modification is in order and calculate any new support amount.  Generally, child support modifications are granted when a support amount would change by twenty percent or $50.00 per month whichever is the lesser of the two.

Parties who can agree ahead of time to a modification can do so using a Stipulated Agreement and filing the agreement with the court.  

Take Immediate Action if You Need a Child Support Modification

If you lose your job, suddenly make less money or have other reasons why your child support amount is too high, take action immediately. The other parent may be able to take action against your wages and/or assets if you fail to pay. Without modifying your child support order with the court, you will still be liable to pay the original amount, regardless of your ability. Child support not paid, also called back child support or arrears, will need to be paid back and with interest. You may be able to get this amount reduced in certain circumstances.

Consult with an experienced Los Angeles family law attorney about a child support modification as soon as your financial circumstances significantly change. They will be able to advise you on whether you may have your child support amount lowered or raised. They can help you file for a child support modification quickly, thus changing the support amount as soon as possible. Keep in mind that filing for a modification may not always work in your favor. Your modification may not be granted however an experienced Los Angeles child support attorney will give you the best chance at reducing your child support order.

Contact an Experienced Child Support Attorney in California

For assistance and advice about your child support modification in Los Angeles County, contact Fernandez & Karney. Our experienced attorneys can work with you through even the most complex child support issues.  Let Fernandez & Karney represent you and protect your right to a reasonable support order.