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Modifying child support in a California divorce

Many Californians view the entry of a judgment of divorce as the end of the travails of the divorce process. Unfortunately, life does not always evolve as we expect, and more than a few divorced California parents have made the painful discovery that their original agreement regarding child support has been derailed by unforeseen events.

A common example is an unexpected and significant change in the income of either parent. If the custodial parent experiences a reduction in income, he or she may need an increase in the amount of child support to meet expenses for the child's clothing, medical care, school expense and similar items. Conversely, the income of the non-custodial parent may drop significantly, making payment of the agreed-upon support financially impossible.

Under California law, the divorced spouses must first attempt to agree on any change to the amount or frequency of child support payments. In all cases, the parent asking for the modification must demonstrate the existence of changed circumstance. Some examples are a change in the income of one or both parents, the incarceration of one parent, the loss of a job by one parent or a change in the child's needs. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties may need the assistance of the court to pursue a modification of child support. In such cases the parties will need to provide financial information, including monthly income and expenses, medical insurance, child care expenses, unemployment benefits and similar information.

Changing the amount of child support may not be especially difficult under the proper circumstances. Anyone who is contemplating seeking a change in child support payments may wish to contact a lawyer who handles divorces and related matters such as child support for an evaluation of the circumstances of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome.

Source: FindLaw, "California Child Support Modification," accessed on May 15, 2017

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