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How does a parent modify a child custody order?

One of our most recent posts on the blog discussed some of the more important considerations with regard to child support. Amongst those was the fact that in order to obtain a child support modification, you need to show a change in circumstances. This is a determination that is ultimately made by the judge, but there are certain things you can do to support an argument that circumstances have changed and, therefore, a modification, either increasing or decreasing the support obligation, is justified.

One of the most common changes in circumstances is a sudden change in one parent's income or the unexpected loss of one a job. When this happens, a non-custodial parent who has suffered a pay cut or has lost a job may want to petition the court to modify support so that their obligation is decreased. On the flip side, a custodial parent who has lost his or her job should consider seeking an increase in support.

Another way you can show a change in circumstances is by showing that the amount of time spent with one parent has changed. This also applies to situations where one parent becomes incarcerated. In these situations it will be critical to show a judge exactly how that time has changed and why it justifies a modification in child support.

Life can change in the blink of an eye. When it does, you need to be prepared to address any child support issues that may be affected, lest you be left in a dire financial position. Therefore, regardless of whether you are the payor or the payee, you should quickly seek a modification if your circumstances change such that the current child support obligation is no longer feasible. Of course, you may face pushback from your child's other parent, which is where an experienced attorney may be able to assist you in persuasively presenting your argument to the court.

Source: California Courts, "Changing a Child Support Order," accessed on Jan. 21, 2017

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