Kevin Qualls Family Law
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When can a parent pursue a child support modification?

Life has a way of throwing unexpected surprises our way. For example, a parent in California could receive a significant increase or decrease in his or her income, or experience a job loss. A new child from a new relationship could be born to a parent who has children from a previous relationship. Or parents who are divorced or no longer together could have a major change to the amount of parenting time they each have with the child. In addition, a child's needs, such as medical needs or child care needs, could change. If a parent is receiving or paying child support, these life events could cause that parent to seek a child support modification.

In general, to modify a child support order in California, one or both parents must prove to the court that a "change in circumstances" has occurred since the child support order was created.

There is an exception though. If the standing child support order is below the state's child support guideline amount, proving a change in circumstances is not needed, and a modification can be sought at any time. This is true whether the child support order was decided upon by the court or whether it was the result of an agreement between the parents.

Sometimes when a child support modification is needed, the parents can resolve the issue out-of-court. However, they will still want to provide the court with a stipulation of their agreement to have it signed and become legally binding. If the parent cannot agree on a child support modification, one of them has to move the court for a child support modification. However, each parent should be aware that until a judge approves a new child support order, the existing one remains in effect.

Sometimes, through life's twists and turns, a child support order that once worked out is no longer feasible for one or both parents. When this happens, they may seek a modification of the child support order. However, there are certain elements that must be met for a modification to take place. Those with questions about how to modify a child support order may want to work with an attorney, as this post is not a replacement for legal advice.

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