When Can an Ex-Spouse Pay More in Child Support in California?
Separation or divorce with minor children involves parenting plans, child custody, visitation schedules, and child support. In California, child support is largely based on each parent’s income. Child support orders can be modified after they’ve been finalized for a significant life change, and payments can be increased or decreased. Changing the child support payments could be justified if one parent receives a significant raise.
Child support payments are created to ensure that both parents provide financial support to their children and that children have similar living standards in each home. Child support also attempts to maintain a standard of living equal to the standard before separation.
Modifying Child Support
California courts prefer to keep child custody and support orders as stable as possible, so modifications must be based on need. The court understands that income, housing, and other life circumstances can change significantly, making a prior child support order no longer fair or reasonable.
A minor life change will not lead to child support modification. Life changes that may require modification include:
- A child’s increased financial needs, such as new medical care needs
- Either parent’s relocation
- A parent’s significant increase or decrease in income
- Either parent’s unemployment
- Either parent moving jobs
- One parent has financial responsibility for another child or children.
- Either parent has a sudden and significant increase in wealth, such as a bonus or inheritance.
- A custody order modification
- Either parent’s incarceration
- Either parent’s active military service
- Either parent becomes disabled
- In some situations where the child’s well-being is significantly impacted
In California, a review for modification could be warranted if the support orders will change by 20% or $50, whichever is less. Either parent can petition for a change in support orders.
Proving the Need for Modification
Even if one parent does see a significant increase in salary or finances, order modification isn’t automatically granted. The parent filing for the petition of modification must prove the following:
- The change in income exists and is significant.
- The modification to support is necessary for the child’s needs and development.
Modification may not be granted if the current child support order covers a child’s needs. Talking with a child support attorney about whether your situation requires a child support change can be useful. You want to ensure that a petition to modify is worth the time and effort.
Order Modification Hearing
Once you file a petition to modify a support order with the court, you will then attend a hearing. Both parents can explain their circumstances and their view of the situation at the hearing. Relevant information regarding income and financial statements will be presented as evidence, and the filing parent must show that these changes make modifications necessary. Legal representation can help strengthen your argument, especially if your co-parent disagrees with your filing.
A judge will make child support calculations if they determine the change of circumstances to be significant. Then, they will change the child support order if necessary.
Retroactive Child Support
It’s not possible to receive retroactive child support. For this reason, you don’t want to wait long after a change in circumstances has occurred. Any modifications will only apply to payments made after the petition is filed. As soon as you are aware of a significant life change, you should file a petition of modification. Waiting to file could result in your child or children not receiving essential support for the time before filing.
Ideally, separated parents would inform each other of changes to income so that their children are properly supported. Both parties can work together on a fair agreement. However, there are situations where an ex-partner will refuse to agree to an increase. In these situations, you should file an order of modification as soon as possible.
Q: Does Child Support Increase if Salary Increases in California?
A: Either parent can petition to modify a child support order if the parent paying for child support receives a significant increase in income. Additionally, either parent can request a modification if the parent receiving child support payments has a significant increase in income. Bonuses, benefits, inheritance, child custody order changes, family size changes, or the increased financial need of the child may also impact child support payments.
Q: How Often Can Child Support Be Modified in California?
A: A parent can request a child support order review every three years if there are no significant changes in circumstances. The court prefers stability for the child in custody and support orders, so outside of 3-year modifications, parents must prove a significant change in life circumstances to request a modification. This proof includes an increase or decrease in finances, moving homes, or remarriage with new financial child responsibilities.
Q: Can I Go After My Ex-Spouse’s New Spouse for Child Support in CA?
A: Remarriage alone is not a significant reason that allows for modified child support. However, a modification may be reasonable if the remarriage significantly alters the financial resources of a parent. Child support obligations still rest on the parent, not their new spouse. The court may calculate support using the new spouse’s income if one parent remarries and relies entirely on the new spouse’s income. Child support payments may be reduced if a parent has more children with the new spouse, especially if the current order will harm the new child.
Q: What Is the Average Child Support Per Child in California?
A: California’s average monthly payment for one child’s support is $430. However, the amount of child support a parent pays depends on their family’s unique circumstances and whether child support is determined through mediation or court. Child support is based on the following:
- Each parent’s income,
- The needs of the child, and
- The number of children who need financial support.
Bickford, Blado & Botros: Your Order Modification Attorneys
Contact Bickford, Blado & Botros today if you believe a change in your life warrants order modification. Our attorneys can guide you through the legal requirements and modify custody and support orders to reflect your circumstances better.
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