Practice Areas

San Diego Modification of Support Attorneys

If divorcing spouses have done their job—if their San Diego modification of support attorneys have done their job—the initial amount of support will be fair. But everything changes. It’s almost impossible to predict what your circumstances will be in three years, let alone ten years. That can be a problem in terms of the fairness and adequacy of support orders. All of which explains why courts hear so many requests that an order of support–whether for child support or spousal support—be modified. The family courts generally try to balance two concerns in deciding whether a modification is justified:

  • Finality: it is not wise for the issues to be revisited again and again without good reason
  • Concern for the welfare of the people involved; if their situations really are different than they were when the original order was made, equity and fairness require a change

Changed Circumstances Standard

The standard for whether child support and spousal support should be modified is whether there has been a significant change in circumstances. The circumstances may involve the paying spouse, the receiving spouse, or, when child support is involved, the child. The justification for the modification has to involve circumstances that are both:

  • Changed: information that has already been presented to the court, or was available to be presented at the court, won’t do
  • Significant; the fact that the paying spouse received a $5 a week raise probably won’t do, but a $100 a week raise very well might

These changes to child support and spousal support may be permanent or temporary. Temporary changes call for temporary modification, permanent changes call for permanent modification. If the expectation as to permanence turns out to be wrong, the parties can always request another modification. Typical changes in circumstances that may trigger a modification:

  • New health problems for the child, increasing medical expenses
  • Discovery that the child has disabilities requiring special programs or rehabilitation
  • Sizable increases or decreases in income for either spouse
  • Health problems of the custodial spouse causing the need for added help with child care (depending on how serious this is, it could also serve as a ground for requesting modification of custody)

All circumstances that are offered to justify the modification need to be carefully documented. That maximizes the chances of getting a modification, and simplifies the hearing that will be held if the parties can’t voluntarily agree on the issue. Making the bare claim that a big change just happened won’t get the support modification; dated bills from a speech therapist, along with a report that describes the type and severity of the child’s impairment and recommends speech therapy almost certainly will.

The Interstate and International Problem

Modern America and its citizens are extremely mobile. A very large number of divorced spouses end up living in different state or different countries. If one or the other of you has moved away from California, trying to get the support decree modified in these cases is much more complicated. Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) the state that issued the original decree is the only state that can modify the decree unless none of the people involved—both parents and any children–reside there when the modification is requested. In that case, the modification must be made by the state in which the spouse not requesting the modification lives, unless the parents agree that the case should be handled by either California or the state in which the other parent lives. When the case requires modifying the support obligation of a parent who lives in a different country, things get even trickier, frequently depending on whether the other country has a reciprocal support treaty with the United States.

Legal Help in Support Modification Matters

Whether you’re trying to get a support court order modified or are facing an effort to have your support obligation increased, contact the San Diego divorce attorneys of Boyd Law. We’re experienced San Diego family law attorneys who know the law of support and the practicalities of the people paying and receiving it. Speed is particularly important for the noncustodial parent. Until the original order is changed, that is what you owe. If you aren’t paying that amount, deficiencies are piling up and will be payable even after the modification is ordered. Contact Boyd Law today and tell us what’s happening and what you need. We will schedule a consultation to discuss the matter at no cost to you.