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Modifying divorce terms in California

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Family Law

When the dust has finally settled after a divorce proceeding is over, the hard-fought battles over custody, child support and spousal maintenance should make the final divorce decree a welcome conclusion that will provide a predictable future for all involved. Unfortunately, life after divorce can be unpredictable, and it may not be long before one or both parents need to modify an existing plan.

Los Angeles and South Bay residents may benefit from getting more information about enforcement of or modifications to a divorce decree and other support matters as the need arises.

Child support determinations

When the court hands down a decision on child support in California, there are a number of considerations that go into the ruling. The court will determine what is in the best interests of the child, which means that the child should have all that is necessary for them to live a healthy life. This includes not only the physical needs of the child, such as food and shelter, clothing and basic entertainment such as television, computers, travel expenses and recreational activities, but also educational necessities.

When a judge orders the noncustodial parent to pay child or spousal support, the intention is to relieve the financial burden that the custodial parent must bear in order to cover these costs. Child support will usually continue until the child is 18, but some support orders include financial assistance during the college years.

Enforcement or modifications of existing orders

Enforcement of child support orders includes serious penalties. When an ex-spouse is financially solvent but refuses or fails to pay court-ordered child support, they can be held in contempt of court with the possibility of jail time. Failure to pay child support can also affect their credit score and can lead to garnishment of tax refunds or driver’s license suspension.

Sometimes the child support agreement grows overly burdensome to the noncustodial spouse over time, especially if the agreement has not included this parent’s financial contributions during their timeshare, such as during vacations or holidays. Child support modifications will deduct these expenses from the amount the noncustodial parent is paying.

Life changes that affect child support, such as income loss, a move out of state, illness, or in the event the custodial parent remarries, can all be reasons for a modification of an existing child support order. If the ex-spouse is pushing for a modification that is not in the best interest of the children or the custodial parent, however, it is important to get legal advice on how to proceed.