One of the most common questions regarding child support is “do both parties need to experience a change in circumstances in order to modify child support?” The answer is no. After a divorce with children or a separation of a child’s parents, either parent may petition with the court to modify their existing child support order as long as they can demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred to at least one party which makes the paid or received amount inappropriate.

Generally acceptable reasons for modifying a child support order include:

  • A change in the child’s medical needs
  • One parent has another child from another relationship
  • Significant changes in time the child spends with each parent
  • Disability or illness of the paying parent
  • Considerable increase or decrease in either parent’s income
  • Changes in the child’s residence

The only scenario in which a child support modification may be requested without a change in circumstances is if the existing amount of support is below the guideline amount. Likewise, the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) may initiate the child support modification process.

Can Parents Agree to a Modification on Their Own?

Yes. If a child’s parents are able to reach an agreement regarding a new child support order, they may write it up as a stipulation and submit it to a judge to be signed into a new order. It is important to note, however, that support orders will not be changed unless signed by a judge.

For example, even if you and your child’s other parent have a verbal agreement to reduce child support, the court will still hold the paying parent responsible for the remaining difference. Similarly, the courts cannot retroactively change the amount of support owed. For this reason, if you are in need of a modification, it is imperative you consult with an attorney as soon as possible to get a jump start on the process before any issues should arise.

Modify Your Support Order with The Edmunds Law Firm

At The Edmunds Law Firm, our San Diego family law attorneys have been helping individuals and couples sort through their most sensitive and complex family issues for more than 40 years. If you are in need of an update to your existing support order, our advocates can guard your and your child’s best interests and guide you towards the most amicable solution possible for your situation.

Call 800.481.2526 or contact our office online today to discuss your legal options in full.