Changes in a child’s or their parents’ lives could occur in years or even just months after the court issues a child support order. Sometimes, those life changes warrant an increase or decrease in support. One of those circumstances is a parent’s change in income. Does this mean that the other parent can request a higher amount of support?
A substantial change in salary
California allows either parent to petition an increase or decrease in the original child support amount based on a parent’s change in income. But before the courts consider the petition, the difference in income must be substantial enough to warrant the modification. Usually, if a parent’s salary increases by more than 10%, the courts may allow an increase in child support.
It is good to note that a change in income is only one example of a substantial change in circumstances that can justify a support modification. Other reasons include the following:
- Either parent’s termination from their job
- Either parent’s employment in a new job
- Either parent’s relocation
- Either parent’s incapacity, incarceration or active military service deployment
- Changes in custody or visitation schedule
The courts may also consider other circumstances unique to each case that are significant enough to affect the child’s well-being.
Is the current support amount enough?
Just because there is an increase in income does not mean the courts will automatically approve the modification to increase support. They will still consider other factors, such as if the original and current support is enough to cover all the child’s needs for their growth and development. If it is, it may be taking it too far to attempt to shift expenses to the parent paying support.
Furthermore, the petitioning parent must prove both the change in salary and the need to increase the support amount.
Understanding when parents can modify child support will help them determine if they can file a petition. Otherwise, it might just cost them time, energy and money for an unjustified request for modification.