Securing a child support order can be a big relief for divorced or unmarried parents. It can be a messy process to navigate and having an order in place can help everyone breathe a little easier.
However, things can get complicated again if one parent wants to modify the support order. Often, many of the same issues that came up while securing the original order may come up again, and new disputes may arise in light of changing circumstances.
Determining what’s necessary
One common argument that often arises during modification cases is whether a change is actually necessary. To change a support order, a party must show that there has been a change in circumstances. However, this can be somewhat subjective.
For instance, if the paying parent loses a job, he or she might argue in favor of lowering support payments. However, the other parent might say that he or she should be able to find another job but is not looking hard enough.
If parents can’t come to an agreement, then the courts will determine whether modification is appropriate.
Determining what’s fair
Calculating the proper amount for modification can also be a challenge. In California there is a formula for minimum levels of child support. Of course, there are support calculators to which people can refer, but there may be reason to make exceptions to those numbers.
For instance, singer Chris Brown is currently involved in a modification dispute. The mother of his 4-year-old daughter is requesting an increase in support from $5,000 per month to $18,336 per month. She says this number comes from the support guidelines for someone at his income level.
Brown, however, says that paying that much in child support is not necessary and in fact, may not be in the best interests of his daughter. He says that such substantial financial payments will spoil his daughter. Whether the court will side with Brown or the mother remains to be seen. Often this argument is not persuasive.
Navigating modification claims
If you are seeking modification or responding to a request for modification, understand that there could be challenges ahead. You can prepare for them by consulting an attorney and familiarizing yourself with the support guidelines as well as your financial resources.