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Can I modify my child support agreement?

Many former couples agree to a child support arrangement when they first breakup. A child custody and support agreement specifies visitation, living arrangements and the amount of money that the non-custodial parent must pay to the other parent to provide for the child’s needs. However, as the years go by, custodial parents may determine that this amount is not enough to cover the child’s expenses. In some cases, non-custodial parents may find that their life circumstances make it impossible for them to make their assigned payments. If you have a good reason to do so, California courts may allow you to modify your child support agreement.

To modify your child support agreement, the court requires that you establish a “change in circumstances.” A change in circumstances generally refers to an increase or decrease in income, losing a job, a change in child’s needs or other significant life changes. However, you do not need to establish a change in circumstances if the child support amount in your agreement is below the guideline amount.

If you and your ex-spouse agree on the new amount, your attorney can write up a stipulation to your current agreement and have the judge approve it. Once the new order is in place, you and your ex-spouse will have to abide by the new payment amounts. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on the modification, you will have to file a motion with the court requesting a modification. The judge will then consider the evidence and, if they determine that a modification is necessary, they will sign a new order.

Source: California Courts, “Changing a Child Support Order,” accessed on Oct. 24, 2017