Modifying Your Child Support Payments

May 21, 2013, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone
By Law Offices of James V. Sansone on May 21, 2013 8:00 AM |

baby child support.jpgHas your income dropped since a judge first ordered you to pay child support? If so, you may want to contact a family law lawyer to have the support reduced.

Sometimes, these modifications are successful. But that wasn't the outcome Carl Williams experienced when he sought relief from the court.

Williams vs. Williams

In 2009, Carl and Nekissta Williams' divorce became final and Nekissta was awarded primary custody of the children and began receiving child support payments.

Sixteen months after the divorce was finalized, Carl's income dropped so he sought relief from the court. Initially, the court agreed with Carl and modified the divorce decree.

But his ex-wife appealed the decision. She stated that Carl's gross monthly income was actually higher than he had reported. The case went to the Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court's decision.

Try to Avoid Unnecessary Court Battles

Despite the initial order for child support, child support payments can always be changed. Whether it's raised or lowered will depend on the child's needs and medical issues and the earning power and health of the parent who is making the payments.

But as in the Williams case, the court has the final say on the matter and its decision can come as a surprise.

Instead of rushing to your lawyer's office or the courthouse, a good first step is to try to resolve the issue by talking with your ex-spouse. If the two of you can reach an agreement, you can jointly ask a judge to approve the change.

If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will need to request a court hearing where you can argue for the amount of support that you think is fair and that you are entitled to.

Child Support Modifications

Sometimes, a temporary modification may be all that is needed. For example, if a child has a medical emergency or if the parent making the payments becomes ill, the court will make the appropriate adjustments. Other conditions that can trigger modifications to child support payments include:

  • The parent making the payments loses his or her job.
  • The parents remarry and thus, the household income increases.
  • A parent becomes disabled.
  • A change occurs in child support laws.
Whenever you have questions about your child support payments, or you are considering a modification, be sure to consult with a Sonoma County family law lawyer to discern what your first steps should be.