The purpose of child support is to ensure that children have adequate financial resources for the expenses they incur. It's a way to balance the costs and obligations of parents based on the amount of time they spend with the children and their ability to support themselves and the children.
As such, the courts focus more on the needs of the children than the parents' budget or financial plans in a divorce. However, that doesn't mean that you are perpetually locked into a support level that is impossible for you to maintain. Child support should be reasonable, based on both your income and the needs of your children.
Circumstances can change suddenly, for a wide range of reasons. Maybe you lose your job because the company you work for decided to downsize or close. Perhaps you took a new position that has potential for great growth, but also brings with it a substantial cut in pay. When your income changes significantly, you can potentially adjust the amount of child support you will have to pay.
California allows you to modify support orders
The most important thing to understand about changing your obligations for spousal support or child support is that it doesn't just happen because you need it to happen. You will have to take steps to get the courts to change the existing support order or risk falling behind on your payments.
You will have to request a modification hearing. At that hearing, you will need to present documentation that proves your change in income and thus your changed ability to pay support as ordered. The courts will review the documentation you provide, such as new pay stubs or unemployment documentation, before determining how to adjust your support order.
In some cases, if the change in income is not substantial enough, the courts may not order a modification. However, in many others, they will adjust the child support ordered to better fit with the reduced or changed income of the parent paying support.
Modifications can help you stay up to date on your support obligations
While avoiding court may seem like the best decision after you finish a divorce, going back to court can actually save you a lot of money and future headache. When you can no longer pay your child support obligations in full every month, you run the risk of compliance and enforcement issues.
It is much better to ask the court to modify your child support to an amount you can affird than it is to fall behind in your obligations. Working with an attorney is a good decision when seeking a modification, as they can help you file the necessary paperwork and secure all the documentation you need.