Modifying Child Support Orders

Once you have an Orange County child support order, that order is subject to modification at any time so long as there has been a change of circumstances that justifies a modification. There is one exception to the rule that requires the showing of a change of circumstances and that is if the Orange County child support order which you seek to modify was an order below California guideline. California guideline simply means a child support amount that was presumed to be correct based on the computer calculation that judges and lawyers use when inputting correct income data as well as the timeshare with the children.

The most common changes of circumstances for a modification of an Orange County child support order are a change in the timeshare of the parents with the children or a change in the income of one or both parents. The timeshare can be as simple as one parent spending less or more time with the children. It doesn’t matter whether the custody or visitation order has been modified. For example if a custody and visitation order specifically places a parent’s timeshare at 35%, but that parent spends less time than 35% with the children, you do not need to obtain a modification of custody and visitation before you seek a modification of child support. What the court cares about is whether or not the parent or parents are actually spending the time they are ordered to spend with their children. Courts recognize that it is not unusual for parental schedules to fluctuate when my parents misses time but then makes it up. However if a parent has an order that says one thing but is exercising a parental time with the children that is significantly less or more than that time, a child-support modification is justified and should be sought immediately.

The second most common reason for a change of a child support order is a change in income. This most often happens when the parent paying child support ends up losing his or her job or the parent receiving child support obtains a raise or a higher paying job. Before there is a rush to court, it is wise to retain Farzad Family Law to do an informal guideline child-support calculation to determine how much of a change the less or more income will make. Of course if a parent who is paying child support has lost his or her job, the change in child support will likely be significant. However, fluctuations in income do not necessarily make a big change especially if it is a non-custodial parent whose income has gone slightly down or up.

Parents often ask me how they can prove that a different timeshare with the children is being exercised or that the other parent’s income has changed. Fortunately, the family code allows you to serve a request for an income and expense declaration on the other parent without starting a court action and gives the other parent a set time to respond to that request with a completed income and expense declaration. If the parent fails or refuses to do so, that is a strong indication the parent does not want to disclose his or her income or the change in timeshare. In addition and independent of this request, we would look at the facts you present to us, go over the specific schedule that has been ordered with the child, review how much time you spend with the child or children and review what supporting documents (such as calendars) you have and we will be able to tell you whether or not there is a significant enough time-share change to justify a request for modification. If there is a sharp disagreement with the other parent, the difference in child support is significant and the child is old enough to testify, we could even (as a last resort) bring the child to court. This last option should only be taken if all of those factors are met.

The most important thing you must realize about a child-support modification is that it will not and can not take effect unless and until the court orders the modification. I have consulted with many parents months and sometimes years after they believed they had struck an agreement with the other parent regarding a change in child support, only to find out that the change they believe they struck may not be enforceable in court because the court never made the modification consistent with the agreement. Parents must be vigilant in seeking a modification of a child support court order if they are going to pay less in child support or receive more in child support. Otherwise they risk that their agreement will have no effect and the other parent can simply deny the agreement or undo it.

Farzad Family Law are experienced and knowledgeable family law attorneys who can assist and represent you with all of your Orange County child support modification needs. Call or email us today and we will find solutions together.

Warmest Regards,

B. Robert Farzad
FARZAD FAMILY LAW, APC
Orange County Divorce & Family Law Attorneys
1851 E. 1st Street, Suite 1150
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Telephone: (714) 937-1193
Facsimile: (714) 937-1192

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