If you are paying child support in California, you would probably like to pay less. In many cases, parents paying child support do not get the benefit of spending as much time with their children as they would like, and paying so much money to your ex without the reward of parenting time may seem unfair. Our Santa Barbara child support modification lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain how you may be able to get your child support payments lowered in California.
How is Child Support Decided in California?
In most cases, one parent has full physical custody or a higher share of parenting time, e.g., a 60/40 or 75/25 time split. That parent is referred to as the “primary custodial parent,” or just the “custodial parent.” When they have the children in their house, they typically pay for expenses out of pocket. Child support payments are used to spread the burden of paying for your children and request financial support from the noncustodial parent.
In the classic child support situation, the noncustodial parent typically has higher income while the custodial parent might devote more time to child care and less time to earning income. Child support, in this case, might be necessary to keep a roof over the children’s heads and food on the table. In other cases where the custodial parent works or where there is joint custody with a parenting time split closer to 50/50 split, it may be nearly a toss-up as to whether child support is even necessary, and the amounts paid should be low to begin with.
When Can I Get Child Support Lowered in California?
California’s child support orders are based on a few factors, including each parent’s income, the child custody split, how many other children you pay to support, and whether anyone involved has any significant or expensive health or medical problems. If there are any changes to these factors, you could be entitled to lowered child support payments.
If any life changes occur for you or the other parent, you may be able to go to court to request lower child support. The following are all common examples of the kinds of changes that support lowered child support:
- The other parent gets a higher paying job
- You lose your job or take a lower-paying job
- You gain more parenting time through a child custody modification
- You have another child
- One of the children you pay to support turns 18 and graduates high school
- You develop an illness or disability that reduces your income
All of these changes affect the factors that a judge uses in determining child support amounts to begin with. For instance, having a lower income or more parenting time changes the core calculation used to determine child support in the first place, since you have less ability to pay or you pay more out of pocket while the children live with you. A change in family size is also an important factor in child support, as are any health changes or disabilities that might affect your income or the expenses you have aside from child support.
You cannot change child support amounts until your petition to modify child support is granted. Even if your children turn 18 and graduate from high school, you cannot stop paying until the court approves your child support modification request.
Filing for Child Support Modification in CA
To get child support modified, you must file with the court. Either parent can request child support modification, as can the local child support agency (LCSA) that handles your case. If the other parent requests increased child support, you may be able to fight their claim with evidence that you already pay enough child support. If you file for lowered child support, you will have to prove to the court that you pay too much before they will allow the support amount to be lowered.
The process of filing can be handled by an attorney. You should always have a lawyer review your case for lowered child support to ensure that it is as strong as it can be before it goes in front of a judge. If you do want to file by yourself, you can do so by getting the proper applications and filing them with the court.
After the court accepts your petition for child support modification, the court will usually schedule a hearing to decide whether the petition will be accepted. At this hearing, you will present financial evidence, including pay stubs, evidence of your expenses, evidence of how many children you pay to support already, and other evidence to help you claim that child support is too expensive.
If your income is quite low, you may be entitled to lowered amounts. However, it is important that you continue to pay the full amount each month until the court orders new child support amounts.
Call to Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with Our Santa Barbara Child Support Modification Lawyers
If you are paying too much child support or you recently lost your job or experienced other substantial financial changes, call our Ventura family law attorneys about lowering your child support today. To schedule a free legal consultation with our attorneys, call today at (805) 643-5555.