Can You Modify An Existing Child Support Order?
Courts in California use a guideline formula to calculate the amount of child support, and it is based primarily on the income of each party and the percentage of time each party spends with the child or children (plus some other factors such as health insurance, mandatory retirement contributions or union dues, etc.). Any experienced family law attorney will have this calculator available to run some numbers and show you what the "guideline" amount should be.
Generally, child support in California is modifiable and either party can request that the court modify child support to the "guideline" amount at any time, with limited exceptions. After a final judgment has been issued, the party requesting to change child support must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in order to modify the amount, except that a party can request that child support be modified to the guideline amount if the amount in the judgment is below the "guideline" amount.
The child support formula is presumed to be the correct amount of child support that the court must order. In very rare circumstances, courts can deviate from the guideline amount. Situations where that might be appropriate include: One parent has an unusually high income and the amount of support exceeds the needs of the child, application of the formula would be unjust given the specific circumstances of the case (such as when parents have different timeshare arrangements of different children), and when one party is not contributing to the needs of the child at a level commensurate with his or her custodial time.
To request a modification of child support, you will need to file a Request for Order along with your accompanying financial forms such as an Income and Expense Declaration. If you believe your current child support order is wrong, do not delay in filing since the court has the option to make the order retroactive to the day that you file the request, but not any sooner than that.
If you believe your child support amount might be wrong, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to explore your options. The Law Office of Rochelle Binns offers a free consultation to discuss these options with you.