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Modifying child support requires a 'change in circumstances'

Most parents in California want to give their child the best life possible. They want their child to get a good education, enjoy extracurricular activities, take vacations, and they want to provide their child with a safe home, nutritious food and appropriate clothing. In the end, it is up to parents to provide for the child's financial needs, so the child can experience a well-rounded childhood.

When parents divorce or break up, this does not end their obligation to financially support their child. Instead, in general, one parent will have custody of the child and the other parent will pay child support. These arrangements will be laid out in a legally enforceable child support order, which may work well for a while. However, circumstances may arise that necessitate a modification to a child support order.

Either the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent can seek a child support modification. However, they must be able to prove that a "change in circumstances" has taken place. There are a number of situations that could be considered a change in circumstances.

For example, a parent's income could have gone significantly down or significantly up. Or, perhaps a parent has lost their job. Being sent to prison can also constitute a change in circumstances. If there is another child from another relationship, this could also be a change in circumstances. In addition, if the child custody schedule has significantly changed, meaning one parent or the other spends much more or less time with the child, this may also qualify as a change in circumstances. A change in circumstances may also exist if the child's financial needs, such as child care, medical expenses or school expenses have changed. Finally, if one of the factors that went into determining the original child support order have changed, this might also count as a change in circumstances.

This list is not all-exhaustive, nor can it guarantee any particular result in a motion to modify child support. Parents in California who wish to modify an existing child support order may want to contact their attorney to see if this can be done.

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