Modification of Support Attorney in Orange County
Child support and spousal support obligations are never permanently set in stone for the remainder of a child’s life or a former spouse’s life. Instead, these agreements are fluid and can be changed as circumstances change for either party in question. If you have questions regarding current support obligations or regarding the support you receive, do not hesitate to contact an experienced OC modification of support lawyer.
Modification of Child Support
Child support modification is based on a number of factors including the paying spouse’s monthly income, the monthly needs of a child – including child care – and courts will sometimes look at the lifestyle the child is accustomed to. Child support is in no way focused on the salary or income of the custodial parent or any new spouses. Courts may only change a child support agreement based on a “material change in circumstances.” However, a material change in circumstances is not necessary if the current child support orders to not match statutory guidelines or the current child support order is below the statutory formula. A court must carefully examine the reasons which constitute a material change in circumstances. This often is the result of a change in monthly income that can affect the child support payments.
A court must carefully examine the reasons which constitute a material change in circumstances. This often is the result of a change in monthly income that can affect the child support payments. A child support modification in support payments may be due to an increase in monthly income, or an extreme hardship that the paying parent is currently going through. This may be due to extraordinary healthcare costs, uninsured catastrophic losses, or the birth of children from a new marriage, relationship, domestic partnership, or same sex marriage.
A court will not automatically suspend or modify payments if the noncustodial parent loses his or her job. Instead, a court will often look to the earning potential of the parent.
Modification of Spousal Support Orders
Spousal support modification is similar to the modification for child support and is often based on the monthly income of the paying spouse. Spousal support orders are typically conditioned on the understanding that one spouse gave up a career to be a stay at home wife or mother, and therefore is unable to earn a living on their own. However, if circumstances change and the spouse receives a well-paying job or remarries, the spousal support must be modified or terminated. Spousal support payments are not meant to last for the remainder of the spouse’s life, but is typically only offered for a set number of years and may continuously be modified as circumstances change.
When Can Support Be Modified in California?
You can modify a support order in California in two ways: providing a written agreement signed by your ex-spouse or showing a change in circumstances since a judge made the original order. These are typically the only ways a judge will sign off on a child or spousal support modification request in Orange County.
The first action means you and your ex-spouse agree on the increase or decrease in support and work together to create a new arrangement. You will both need to fill out and file Form FL-350. If your case involves a local child support agency, the agency will have to approve the modification as well. This is the easiest way, as you can avoid going to trial. A judge will sign off on the new arrangement and it will be effective immediately.
The second action is more common – a court trial to determine if the petitioner’s circumstances have changed enough to warrant a support modification. You may need to go to court if you and your ex cannot agree on a new amount. At your hearing, you or your divorce attorney will need to prove a significant change in circumstance since your divorce.
- The loss of your job
- Significant demotion or pay cut
- Your ex gets a job with a higher income
- Your ex-spouse remarries
- One parent becomes incarcerated
- You have a child with someone else
- A child’s needs substantially change
- The child custody arrangement changes
- The loss of a child’s life
- Any other changes to factors used to calculate the original order
You can request a support modification by trial in Orange County by filling out paperwork online, printing the forms and bringing them to the courthouse. Then, you will need to attend your court date (with or without an attorney) and provide evidence of the need for a modification. Only with enough supporting evidence of your change in financial circumstances will a judge in California sign off on a support modification request.
How Long Do I Need to Wait Before Requesting Support Modifications?
You do not need to wait at all before requesting support modification. No rule restricts how long you must wait after a divorce decree or change in circumstances to request a modification. In fact, it is important not to wait if you need a modification, as the courts can only change your support order dating back to the date you filed your request. A court cannot change an order retroactively.
If you could not afford child support payments for three months before you filed the request for modification, for example, you will still have to pay the full amount owed for those three months. Although many people wait to modify their orders because they think income changes are temporary or believe the legal process is too difficult, it is important to file a modification request as soon as possible in Orange County to prevent being in arrears on a payment.
Before you request a support modification, however, recalculate the amount of child or spousal support you lawfully must pay based on your new income or circumstances to determine if it is enough of a difference to justify going to court. You can do this by visiting the family law facilitator in Orange County, who will help you run calculations. If so, proceed with the legal process as soon as you can.
You do not have to wait to file a request during the COVID-19 pandemic. The courts in California offer emergency court actions to change support orders for families undergoing financial duress. Emergency Rule 13 temporarily allows a court to modify support orders without in-person hearings, effective on the date the petitioner mailed in the request or otherwise served it on the recipient. This may be an option available to you if COVID-19 led to a loss of income.
Initial Legal Consultation Orange County Modification of Support Lawyer
If you are considering a modification in either child support or spousal support (or both), it is important to contact the experienced Orange County family lawyers of Boyd Law. Our Orange County divorce attorneys have years of experience in handling support orders and support modifications and will be able to guide you in crafting a modification order that meets your changed circumstances. Contact our Orange County office today for your initial free consultation.