My Ex Earned a Raise – Will This Affect What They Pay in Child Support?
A person’s job prospects and earning potential is a dynamic thing. Just because a person earns a certain amount at the time a divorce is finalized or a child support agreement is put in place, does not mean that the number could not change, significantly, over time. A person working as a bank teller could rise through the ranks to become vice-president of the bank. Conversely, a person could have a mid-life career change and make significantly less than they had before.
Significant changes in a parents’ life may warrant either an increase or decrease in child support. A change in income of a parent is a significant change that warrants a review of how much child support should be paid by that parent. But does this mean that a parent may request that a higher amount of support be paid? If a parent is making less money, can they petition the court to have the child support obligation lowered?
Significant Salary Change
California allows for either parent who has signed off on a child support agreement to petition the court for either an increase or a decrease in the original amount of child support that had been agreed to. One situation which could warrant a change in the support order amount is if a parent’s income has changed in a way that is substantial enough to warrant a modification of the signed agreement. This typically means that if a parent’s salary has increased by greater than 10%, then the court may entertain or approve a request for the court to increase the amount of ordered child support.
Other Circumstances That Could Warrant Change
It is important to note that the above-described change in income is only one example of a significant change in a parent’s life that could warrant the court reviewing and modifying a child support agreement. Other such reasons include:
- A parent being terminated from their job – this would almost certainly result in a child support reduction on the part of the parent who lost their job, at least until they retain a new position.
- Either parent’s new employment– a new job is usually a significant change, and will likely come with a different salary. The different situation could result in the court finding it appropriate to modify a support order.
- A parent’s relocation – a relocation can affect family finances in a number of ways. Cost of living can vary widely from place to place, and relocation of a parent may impact other aspects of custody and/or support as well, such as requiring that a child stay with their primary caregiver for longer periods of time than had been anticipated when the original child support agreement was agreed to.
- A parent’s incapacity, incarceration or active military service deployment. Any of these items could substantially limit a parent’s ability to work or provide the same support amount as previously agreed to.
- Changes in custody or visitation schedule. Tied in many ways to some of the points above, one element of calculating child support is determining how much time the child spends with each parent. If one parent is caring for the child much more frequently than had been originally agreed to, it stands to reason that they may be entitled to a larger amount of support in order to care for that child for a longer period.
Every situation is different and the course may consider other unique circumstances that might be significant enough to affect the child’s well-being and warrant a change in the support agreement.
Is the Original Agreement Enough Support?
Parents should keep in mind that a change in circumstances or increase in income does not automatically require the court to adjust the child support order. The court will consider many factors, including the amount of child support being paid, to help determine whether the change in support order would better serve the child’s interest, or if the current level of support is satisfactory to meet all of the child’s needs.
Contact Cardwell, Steigerwald Young
The experienced San Francisco child support lawyers at Cardwell, Steigerwald Young are standing by to help with all of your family law needs.
Child Support Services | San Francisco (sf.gov)
Child Support | Superior Court of California – County of San Francisco (sfsuperiorcourt.org)