When a judge sets a child support order in place, that order must be followed for as long as the order is in place. However, when your family’s circumstances change, the order may no longer fit the situation you are in. Especially if you lose your job, have another child, or the child grows into an adult, the child support order might be inappropriate for the parents to keep paying at the same value. The Ventura child support modification lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain when you can get a child support order modified in California.
Grounds for Changes to Child Support Orders in CA
When a judge sets the initial child support order, he will look at the child custody split involved in the case and each parent’s income. In cases where one parent has sole custody, the other parent will likely pay child support to offset the out of pocket expenses that the custodial parent makes. In cases with joint custody, the parent who has a greater share of parenting time usually receives child support, but the parents’ income levels are important factors in deciding the initial child support amount. If any of these factors change later, you can petition the court to modify the existing child support amount.
If either parent picks up more parenting time, the initial factors that dictate who pays how much money will be altered. The same is true for any substantial changes in income. That means that if you lose your job or take a job with a different salary, your child support order should change to reflect that. The same is true if the other parent’s job or income changes.
Other factors are extremely important in determining how much child support you have to pay, including how many children you pay to support. If the parent who pays child support has another child, they may need more of their money to support that child, which could reduce the child support amounts in this case. Additionally, children eventually grow up and no longer need child support payments; this could justify reduced child support for the remaining children or stop child support altogether if an only child graduates high school and turns 18.
Lastly, you can petition the court to change child support if there are any health changes or disabilities that affect your ability to pay to support your children. If either parent develops a disability or serious health condition, they may need to reserve a higher portion of their finances to put toward medical care, or the disability may prevent them from earning sufficient wages to pay child support. The court can take these changes into account as grounds for child support modification as well.
When Can I Stop Paying Child Support?
If your child support order is no longer relevant because it requires you to pay too much child support or your child has grown into an adult and no longer needs support, you must petition the court to modify the child support order before you can stop paying. If you try to stop payments yourself, you may face penalties and enforcement procedures to force you to keep paying.
Child support is typically only ordered until a child turns 18 and graduates high school. If they turn 18 in their senior year, you may be required to support them through graduation. If they are still in high school after age 18, your support obligation usually stops when the child turns 19. However, you must request that the court stop child support payments before you can stop paying.
Until the court gives you the ok to stop paying, you must continue to pay as ordered. In most cases, the court will automatically garnish child support payments from your wages, which makes it difficult to cancel or reduce payments in the first place. However, if you do stop paying early or pay only a portion of the amount ordered in your case, you could face liens on your property and other penalties.
Can I Lower or Raise Child Support?
When a court accepts a petition for child support modification, the judge will reexamine the factors used in calculating child support. If the parenting time split is different now, either parent earns a different amount of money, or there is a different number of children to support, the support amount may be vastly different.
Either parent can petition for child support modification. If you are happy with the support amount as it is, the other parent may not be, and they can file to have the order changed without your permission. In some cases, the local child support agency (LCSA) might also petition the court for changes if they notice problems with the current amount before the parents do.
Call Our Child Support Modification Lawyers in Santa Barbara for a Free Consultation
If you want your child support lowered or raised, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth’s Ventura family law attorneys today. Our child support attorneys offer free consultations to help parents understand how to get child support orders changed and when you can file a petition to modify child support in CA. To set up your free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.