Child support orders are not permanent but are instead adaptable over time. While no payment order will change automatically, the court can change child support orders if there is a change in circumstances; in some cases, the change in a custodial parent’s earnings, a change in custody, or a change in the amount of time you spend with your children can all be reasons that the court could approve a new order.
In California, a court-ordered child support plan may be adjusted if certain material circumstances in the lives of either party change substantially after the initial order was made. This includes significant changes in the income of either party, as well as if there is a change in the amount of time the child spends with either parent, or in the cost of child care.
There are, however, exceptions to this general rule of change. For example, if either spouse remarries, the income of the new spouse will generally not be considered, beyond tax consequences, when calculating a new child support order.
Changes in Income
Changes in income from one parent may allow for modification to be made to a child support order. The court will not only examine the salaries and wages of the other parent, but will also take into account for income generated through rent, royalties, dividends, bonuses and other sources.
While the amount of money a parent generates can call for a change in a child support order, it is important to note that this change can be offset by an increase in your wealth or a change in the amount of time your child spends with each parent.
In order to request a change in your child support order, you must file a Request for Order (stating your reasons for requesting the modification) as well as an Income and Expense Declaration. A copy of these documents must be filed with the court, as well as provided to your ex. This is followed by a court hearing, during which the court will review both parties’ finances and any other relevant information.
This also serves as an opportunity to present evidence to support your argument for modifying child support due to an increase in your ex’s increased income.
Income is one of several factors to be considered by the court when modifying child support orders. The court will consider factors such as financial hardship (i.e. extraordinary health care costs), travel costs for visitation, and other childcare-related costs, such as educational needs.
Changing a child support order can be a complicated matter. You should be sure to speak with an experienced California family lawyer before seeking a substantial change to your child support order.