California parents who are subject to a child support order might wonder how the order would change if the parent paying support began earning more or less money. A parent who loses a job or changes jobs and this leads to a lower income can ask for a modification of the order. The same is true if one parent begins making a substantial amount of money. If that parent is also paying support, the other parent can ask for an increase in child support.
There are other reasons a support order might be modified. If the child's needs change significantly or there is a change in the cost of living, if one parent is incarcerated, or a parent remarries and has a significantly changed income as a result, a modification may be granted by the court.
Parents should keep in mind that until a modification is approved, they are responsible for paying the amount owed. This means that despite any verbal agreement between ex-spouses, legally, the parent will still be under the existing obligation. Furthermore, modifications are not retroactive. Therefore, if there is a sudden drop in the income of the parent paying child support, that parent should not waste any time in applying for a modification.
While a formula is used to determine child support obligations, there are several factors that go into that formula. Whether a parent expects to pay or receive child support, that parent may want to work with attorney on matters of child support as well as custody and other divorce-related issues. Custody may be particularly difficult for parents to navigate because there are so many emotions involved. Parents worry about their children's well-being as well as how much time they will have together. Most family courts will make an effort to ensure that children spend time with each parent.