If you want to modify your child support arrangement, you cannot simply decide on this change with your child's other parent. A child support modification cannot simply be a casual agreement. If you agree with the other parent to reduce support but do so only casually the casual agreement will probably not be enforceable and unpaid child support results. Agreements to modify child support must be approved by the court to avoid this consequence. So long as the appropriate language is utilized in an agreement to modify child support the Family Court will rarely reject the agreement.
Of course there are also situations when a modification of child support, upward or downward, may be justified but the other parent will not agree. For a child support modification, you need to show a substantial change in your circumstances in order to increase or reduce payments. Such circumstances may include:
- New obligations to support a child from a different marriage or relationship
- Change in the amount of visitation time a noncustodial parent spends with the supported child or children
- Change in the medical or educational circumstances of the supported child
- Significant change in the receiving spouse's income
- Involuntary loss of employment by the paying spouse
- Spousal support or alimony modifications
While you are not legally obligated to hire an attorney for any family law issue, your chances of success improve dramatically with the right attorney on your side.A Lawyer to Assist with Spousal Support Modifications
As long as the order providing for alimony, also referred to as spousal support, does not state the support is non-modifiable, spousal support orders are always modifiable with evidence of material change in circumstances. Changed circumstances that might justify an increase or reduction of spousal support can include:
- Supported spouse cohabits with a significant other
- Supported spouse's failure to make reasonable efforts to achieve self-sufficiency
- Retirement of the supporting spouse
- Change of the respective incomes of either the paying or the receiving spouse
Requests for orders modifying support can only be made retroactive to the date the actual request is filed with the court. It is therefore important for you to take steps to file appropriate documents in the court requesting modification as soon as possible. Both temporary spousal support orders and support orders that are part of the final judgment can be modified if there is a material change of circumstances.
Whether or not your existing spousal support order can be modified in the future is highly dependent on the terms of the support order. Careful drafting of a spousal support order is necessary to preserve your right to future modifications.
Attorney John S. Yohanan has more than 30 years of experience in California family court, handling requests to modify alimony and child support obligations. I am prepared to help you.
If you anticipate needing a lawyer to assist with child support or spousal support modifications, do not hesitate to call me at (408) 297-0700 or via our online form.