Life after divorce or the issuance of orders in a paternity case can take many unexpected turns. In recognition of this clear reality, California courts maintain the power to re-evaluate and modify orders for child support, child custody, visitation, and spousal support when justified by a significant change in circumstances. Since child support does not end until a child turns 18 or 19 in the state of California, there is a good chance you will need to make changes to your child support order at some point. This is a complex process that can be made easier with the help of an attorney.
Clear Legal Guidance For People Dealing With Major Life Changes
Dedicated family lawyer Kevin L Qualls and our caring, accomplished legal team have decades of experience petitioning for and defending against post-judgment modifications. The many concerns and situations we help our clients address include the need for:
- Modifications of child support and/or spousal support made necessary due to job loss, another substantial income change or a demonstrable change in a child’s economic needs
- Changes in child custody and visitation orders when children are not thriving under the existing arrangement, a child has reached sufficient age for his or her wishes to be considered, domestic violence or substance abuse is discovered, or under certain other circumstances
- Viable approaches to gaining permission to move away as a custodial parent, prevent a parental relocation or modify orders that will support both parental relationships after a move-away
What Circumstances Allow for Modifications to Child Support?
Modifications to the child support agreement can be requested every three years or when either parent has experienced a “substantial change in circumstances.” There are many changes in circumstance that are valid reasons for changing a child support order. Some of these include:
- The loss of employment by either parent
- Income of either parent changing
- Changes in custody or significant changes in the amount of time a child is spending with each parent
- A change in the child’s needs – for example, development of a health condition or needs for more childcare
- Incarceration of the parent paying support
- Military deployment
How Do I Modify Child Support in Orange County, CA?
If both parents and the child support agency can come to an agreement on the new child support amount after a change in circumstances, it can be written as a stipulation and given to the judge for signature. Make sure not to skip this step – even if you agree verbally, it is important to put it in writing and get it signed by a judge. Otherwise, the existing order will still be legally binding, and you could be required to pay back the difference in the future if your ex-partner later changes their mind.
If the parents cannot come to a resolution themselves or through mediation, a motion for modification must be filed with the court. A judge will review your forms and supporting documents during a hearing to determine if modifications are appropriate in your case.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer to Modify Child Support?
Having an attorney experienced in California family law is advantageous when making modifications to a child support order. Before a court case is even considered, we can act as mediators to attempt to come to a resolution about modifications outside of court. If mediation is unsuccessful, having a lawyer on your side will be crucial to building your case. Child support modifications require several forms and the collection of specific paperwork. Keeping track of this can be difficult when you are already going through a stressful time, so hiring a lawyer to make sure things are done correctly is crucial.
What Forms and Documentation Are Needed for Child Support Modification?
If you are petitioning to modify an established child support order, your financial information will be reviewed to ensure accuracy. Additionally, specific forms are required to be filed to initiate the modification request. An experienced California family law attorney can help you through these steps. You will need:
- Initial Court Forms. A Request for Order AND an Income and Expense Declaration OR a Financial Statement (Simplified) form must be filed to initiate the request for modification.
- Forms Regarding Serving Papers. The other parent must be served with your papers and a blank copy of the Responsive Declaration to Request for Order form and a blank Income and Expense Declaration for them to fill out. A Proof of Service by Mail or Proof of Personal Service must also be filed to indicate the paperwork was served to the other parent.
- Proof of Financial Information. Proof of income, tax returns, unemployment benefits, childcare expenses, rent/housing costs, and medical expenses are some of the items you will want to have prepared to verify the accuracy of your financial information.
- Paperwork After the Court Hearing. This can vary depending on who is involved in your case. Sometimes this will be taken care of by a clerk or the child support agency, but sometimes it is the responsibility of the person who requested the modification. Forms to be aware of after the hearing include: Findings and Order After Hearing, Child Support Information and Order Attachment, Non-Guideline Child Support Findings Attachment, and the Child Support Case Registry Form.
Your Irvine Area Attorney For Spousal Support Modification Or Changes To Other Orders
Prompt action to learn and pursue your legal options may be extremely important. If, for example, you know you will soon be unable to meet support obligations, we will need to put your case and petition together quickly. The same is true if you hope to move with your children or protect your parental rights as a noncustodial parent.
At Kevin L Qualls Family Law, a deeply experienced Orange County child support modification attorney will hear you out, provide practical counsel and guide you through every step in the process. To request a consultation focused on finding the best approach to your case, call (714) 750-5988 or contact us online now.