Have there been changes in your circumstances since your last child support order? If so, child support may need to be adjusted.
In California, child support is based on a variety of factors including each parent's income, the percentage of time each parent spends with the children, the number of children, each parent's tax liability, and several other factors.
If any of the factors upon which child support is calculated have substantially changed since your most recent child support order, you may benefit from asking the court to recalculate and modify child support.
The most common reason for modifying child support is a change in a parent's income, usually due to a job loss, job change, or promotion. If the parent paying child support has increased income, the amount of child support will generally increase, and if he or she has decreased income, the amount of child support will generally decrease. When the parent receiving child support has the change in income, the reverse is true.
Since parents are often reluctant to share their financial information with each other, you may be wondering how you will know if the other parent's income has changed. California law allows each parent to, once per year, make a formal request to the other parent to provide a completed Income and Expense Declaration and a copy of his or her most recent tax returns. The Income and Expense Declaration is a form that requires a parent to list employment information, all sources and amounts income, and monthly expenses, among other things. Upon receipt of these documents, you can calculate child support and determine whether a modification is necessary.
The second most common reason for modifying child support is a change in how much time each parent spends with the children. Courts generally look to the child custody order to determine the timeshare. If the parents are following a schedule different than that contained in the custody order, then the timeshare has likely changed. If the parent paying child support spends additional time with the children, then child support generally decreases, and if he or she spends less time with the children, then child support generally increases. For the parent receiving child support, the effect is reversed.
If you are not sure whether you need a modification of child support, an attorney can assist you in calculating child support based on your current circumstances.
By Deborah A. Perkins, Norman Dowler, LLP