Many parents in California dutifully pay their child support obligations in full and on time, month after month. However, no one can tell what the future will bring, particularly when it comes to finances. For example, a person could see their hours at work reduced, they may lose their job altogether or there may be a change in how much time they spend with their child. Any of these situations could seriously affect a parent's financial situation, making it difficult for them to pay child support, as their order currently stands.
Some people may put off seeking a modification of their child support order in such circumstances. They may think that their financial downfall is only temporary. They may be facing other stressors in their lives and paying child support is just nowhere on their radar. They may think that they'd be better off waiting until they are less stressed to seek a child support modification.
However, it is important not to put off seeking a child support modification. This is because, in California, any changes to a child support order are not retroactive. For example, even if the paying parent is unemployed for four months, he or she is still responsible for paying the full amount of child support for those months, even after he or she is granted a child support modification that lowers the amount of support owed. Keep in mind that a failure to pay may not only mean that the paying parent is delinquent, but he or she will also be charged interest on those delinquencies, making a difficult financial situation even worse.
Therefore, if a paying parent believes he or she needs a child support modification, he or she should not put off seeking one. Since a change in child support can only become effective moving forward from the date the modification is approved, and cannot be applied retroactively, parents who cannot pay their child support obligations would be well-served to seek the help they need to pursue a modification as soon as possible.