If you have children and get divorced in California, the issue of child support will need to be addressed. Once a divorce is finalized, the parent ordered to pay child support will likely encounter a substantial long-term expense. Though formulaic and fixed, a court-ordered support payment can carry significant economic ramifications and needs to be revisited if unforeseen circumstances cause a sudden change to your income. In fact, one of the most common child support mistakes for people who suffered a job loss or had to take a pay cut is not requesting a reduction in their child support obligations.
Modification of Child Support: When Can I Apply for a Modification?
California law will generally allow either parent to request support modifications if you believe you are paying too much or receiving too little child support.
When Can I Apply for a Modification?
Most family courts in California will consider a child support reduction request if one or more of the following circumstances arises:
- Sudden change in employment status – these types of sudden changes to your employment status could serve as the basis to get your child support reduced:
- If you are demoted
- Given reduced hours
- Are forced to work in a lower-paying industry
- Lose your job through no fault of your own
- Are deployed to active military service
- Or become disabled
- Sudden change to your income – If your income changes due to a job loss or pay cut, you could request a reduction in your child support obligations from a California family court.
- Change in family size – If you have another child with a new spouse or adopt a child, a California family court may consider modifying your child support agreement to reflect the fact that you are taking on the extra expense of raising a new child.
- Notable change to the cost of living – A California family court may be willing to modify a child support order if there is a significant change to the cost of living due to inflation, deflation, or a sharp increase in the cost of housing in your area.
How to Apply for Reduction
To gain a reduction, you must file a motion requesting a decrease based on the substantial change of circumstances with the court. As the court reviews a modification request, they will first consider whether a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the original child support agreement was ordered. If so, it will then be up to the judge to decide whether said changes warrant a modification. In addition, the court will look for any evidence that shows one party has unjustly profited at the expense of another party. If one parent fails to disclose their full income, for example, this unfairly reduces their child support payments and places a disproportionately larger burden on the other parent.
There have been cases where courts have modified child support payments based on who was the primary caregiver for children before the divorce if they do not live with both parents equally after the divorce. Courts have also approved modified agreements when the recipient spouse provides the appropriate documentation about how the increased child support will be used to support the best interests of their child.
What If My Child Support is in Arrears?
If your child support payments are in arrears (i.e., unpaid or late), then the chances of your child support reduction request prevailing before a California family court are slim to none. Nevertheless, there are programs and services available to help you manage your unpaid child support obligations. For example, there is a “Child Support Debt Reduction Program” available to certain parents residing in California. This program allows eligible parents with past-due child support obligations the chance to reduce the amount owed. If you qualify for this program, you will be given the chance to negotiate a compromise repayment to the State of California. In other words, you may offer to reduce the amount of unpaid child support by paying an amount that is less than the full amount owed. Though, please keep in mind that any reduction in the amount owed for child support will be based primarily on your income and assets.
How to Get Your Child Support Reduced? Partner with a Trusted Lawyer
Even if you are meeting your monthly child support obligations, the chances of successfully getting your child support order modified and reduced are relatively low. Why? Because many family court judges are inherently reluctant to grant a reduction in monthly child support due to concern that the reduced monthly payments will automatically harm or hinder the child, or children, who are supposed to be benefitting from the payments. This is why it is so important to retain the services of a trusted and knowledgeable lawyer who understands child support laws in California.
Have Questions About How to Get Child Support Reduced in California? Contact Castro Law Offices
If you are in need of guidance and legal counsel on how to get your child support reduced, then now is the time to contact Castro Law Offices. Our legal team is ready and able to answer your questions and provide insight on how to get child support reduced in California.