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.
When Can I Modify a Support Order?
Support orders are common in divorce cases in San Diego. They require one spouse to pay the other for a specific purpose, such as to support children born of the marriage (child support) or make up for the income that one spouse will lose (spousal support). It is possible to modify a support order in San Diego if your situation changes. However, the courts will only agree to modify a support order if there is a valid reason to do so. You may need assistance from a divorce attorney in San Diego to prove your case.
The value of a financial support order in a divorce case will be based on factors such as both parents’ debts and financial obligations, both parents’ incomes, and the needs of the child. The courts recognize, however, that things change. If after your divorce you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to fulfill a financial support obligation, you are allowed to request a modification. These situations may include:
- The loss of your job
- The loss of another source of income, such as government benefits
- A demotion
- Child custody or visitation changes
- A change in the size of your family
- A criminal conviction and jail sentence
- A serious or disabling injury
Note that you could also require a modification of support if you start earning more money. The courts rule on support order modification requests in San Diego on a case-by-case basis. A judge will carefully review your reason for the request to determine if it is valid. If so, the courts may agree to change your support obligation. If not, the existing order will remain in effect.
How Do I Modify a Financial Support Order in San Diego?
If you have been ordered to pay your ex-spouse a certain amount in child support or spousal maintenance, you are legally obligated to continue making the required payment until the order ends. It is against the law for you to stop paying a support order without permission from the courts. With a child support order, this is typically until the child turns 18. With spousal support, the length of the obligation will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage.
If your circumstances change, take the following steps to request an official support order modification:
- Collect evidence to support the argument that you cannot fulfill the order. This could mean pay stubs proving a pay cut, a notice of job termination, a letter from your employer, medical records proving a debilitating injury or bankruptcy papers.
- Request a modification from the courts. Return to the court that issued your divorce decree. Ask for the forms that you will need to request a modification of your support order. Fill out these forms completely, with or without assistance from an attorney, and submit them to the courts for review.
- Go to trial. If you and your ex-spouse agree on the modification, a judge will typically sign off on the paperwork without a trial. If your ex is contesting the modification, however, you will have to go to trial and argue your case before a judge.
If you need to modify your support order, go through the proper protocols. Do not work out an agreement with your spouse outside of court, as this will not change your financial obligation on paper. With a verbal agreement, if the other party changes his or her mind, you could be responsible for paying the full amount of the original order – including missed payments from the past – at any time.
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
Hiring a modification support attorney in San Diego can make the legal process for changing an order easier for you and your family. Your support modifications attorney can help you gather strong evidence, fill out confusing paperwork, work out a compromise with your ex-spouse or go to trial to achieve a modification, if necessary. For more information about how an attorney can help you request a support modification, contact Boyd Law today.
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.