Modifying a child support order

Modifying a child support order

Reduce child support obligation?

In California, child support orders may be modified at any time before termination of the payer’s duty to pay support. Thus, you can ask the court to reduce your child support obligation. Mostly to reduce your child support you must show that there is a decreased need for child support or you are unable to pay child support. However, if you do not follow the steps to reduce your child support obligation the other parent may collect on your unpaid child support years later.

Change of circumstances

To order to reduce the amount you need to pay you must prove to the court that there is a material change in circumstances that warrant a reduction. Material change means a significant change.

What is considered a material change in circumstances

Example of a material change in circumstances is the payor’s inability to pay child support. Another example is the child’s decrease need for child support. Remember as the party requesting the change you will have the burden to prove that you are unable to pay child support.

What if the other parent agrees to the reduction of child support

Because child support payments are for the child, parties cannot agree to reduce child support on their own. The court must approve any agreement between the parties to change child support. Otherwise, your obligation to pay support will not be waived. This means years down the road even if the other parent has not collected support, he or she can decide to collect on your unpaid child support obligations.

Conclusion

The family court can modify child support orders. However, modification to be valid the court must agree to the change. Outside of a court agreement even if signed by both parties will not waive your obligation to pay. Thus, it is important to go to court and follow the steps to reduce child support obligation.

Court forms you may need to complete

  1. FL-300 | Request for order
  2. FL-150 | Income and expense declaration

Courts website: https://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm

Changing my child’s last name

Changing my child’s last name

Changing your child’s last name in child custody disputes after separation or divorce 

In child custody disputes it is common to come across the issue of whether you should try to change the last name of your child.  As a matter of tradition, the child is often given the father’s last name. However, both parents have the right to determine the name or last name of their child. Complications arise when the parents’ divorce or separate and one parent wants to change or add his or her last name to the child’s name.

When both parents agree to name change 

If both parents agree the court will issue a decree upon joint request by both parents to change the child’s last name. The process may take several months.

When one parent does not object

Generally, the court will allow one parent to change the last name of the child if the other parent (after being properly notified of the petition for change) does not object to the name change request. Moreover, if one parent has abandoned the child then the abandoning parent will be unable to object to the request for change of last name. Thus, the court is likely to approve the request for change.

When one parent refuses to consent to change

When one parent wants to change the child’s last name, but the other parent disagrees, the court will decide about the name change request based on the best interest of the child. In determining what is in the best interest of the child the court will consider and balance the following factors:

The length of time the child has used the current last name

The length of time the child has been using the last name is important. This is because the more time the child has been using the current last name the more the last name is part of the child’s identity. Thus, the court may weight this factor against approving the request for change.

How the name change will affect the parent child relationship

Generally, the law presumes that the child should have a relationship with both parents. If changing the last name of the child strengths his or her bond with a parent the court may approve the request. Conversely, the parent objecting to the change may argue that his or her relationship with the child will be damaged. The court will analyze both sides and determine whether this factor weights in favor of approving the request.

The status and strength of the child’s relationship with each parent

The court will consider the strength of the parent-child relationship to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to have his or her last name changed. If changing the last name weakens his or her relationship with one parent, then the court may find that this factor weights against approving the request.

The child’s need to identify with a new family unit by name

If the child is having a hard time identifying with a new family unit because the child has a different last name from the other family members the court may find that it is in the best interest of the child to have his or her last name changed.

The desire of the child who is old enough to express such desire

If the child is old enough to express his or her desire as to whether the request for change should be approved and the court deems that such desire seems rational, then the court is likely to consider the child’s desire in making a decision as to whether to approve the request for change.

Other facts the court finds important based on the specific case

Given that each case is unique, the court will consider common sense arguments made by each parent in determining whether to approve the request.  For this reason, it is important for you to express your reasoning to the court clearly in writing and orally.  In doing so, you can increase the chances of achieving your desired outcome.

Below are the number and name of the court forms you may need

Form Number & Name 

  1. NC-100 |Petition for change of name 
  2. NC-110 |Name and information about the person whose name is to be changed
  3. NC-120 |Order to show cause for change of name 

California court website: https://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm

Co-parenting after a divorce

Co-parenting after a divorce

Make Co-parenting after a divorce or separation a success

Co-parenting after a divorce or separation can be very difficult. Just recognizing and accepting that you may need to co-parent with your ex is challenging on its own. However, the sooner you realize the importance of co-parenting after a divorce or separation the more you can focus on the well-being of your children. In this article you will get easy to apply and practical tips to make co-parenting with your ex a success even after an emotional divorce or separation.

Have a parenting plan

A parenting plan is very useful. It will help you establish guidelines both of you can follow when it comes to co-parenting. A parenting plan will delegate responsibility to each parent and will clarify goals and expectations of each party. Thus, it is a great idea to have a professional help you draft a parenting plan parenting plan so you can make co-parenting after a divorce or separation a success.

Communicate in writing

Communication in writing can be a good idea in high conflict family law matters since it will reduce the emotional tension of a phone or in person conversation. Instead of calling the other parent you may want to send an email or text message. This will help lower conflict so you can focus on what the well-being of your children.

Use apps designed for co-parenting

Apps or programs designed for co-parenting can be useful since it keeps a record of the communication. This record may be used in court and be viewed by the attorneys and the judge. Thus, parties will likely be on their best behavior knowing that their communication will be read and scrutinized.  

 

 

Take a co-parenting class

Sometimes if parties cannot co-parent the court might order them to take co-parenting classes. However, you do not have to wait for a court order to take these classes. Co-parenting classes are extremely useful. You can gain valuable information that will help you in raising your children for years to come. So, consider taking these classes even if not ordered by the court.

Be respectful

In a divorce or separation there is a lot of animosity. Emotions are high and each party might have things they want to say. It is easy to lose control and say something disrespectful. However, keep in mind that co-parenting is not about you but instead it is about your child or children. Simply being respectful can go along way to reduce tension so both of you can focus on the well-being of your child.

Know your goal

Remain aware that your goal with co-parenting is to raise another human who can be a valuable member of the society. Always keep this in mind. Your child or children has and should live in a peaceful and loving environment and not an environment full unnecessary conflict.

Conclusion

Your child or children deserve to live in peace. In most cases, courts require parents to co-parent. In doing so consider drafting a parenting plan and incorporating some of the tips discussed in this article. Doing so will help you create a more peaceful life for your child or children.

Do I have to pay in child support?

Do I have to pay in child support?

 

Introduction

The family court has the authority to order either or both parents to pay child support in any amount necessary for the support of the minor child. In this article, you will learn how child support is calculated along with ramifications for failure to pay child support if you are ordered to do so.

Guideline Child Support

Courts and lawyers use a calculator to come up with a guideline child support amount. The most important factors in calculating the child support amount are: (1) disposable income of each parent, (2) percentage of physical custody allocated to each parent and (3) the number of children. For example, a parent with 20% physical will and a high amount of disposable income will likely have to pay a significant amount in child support. 

Deviation From Guideline Child Support

Judges have broad discretion to either reduce or increase the guideline child support amount so long as doing so is consistent with the best interest of the child. For example, if the child is accustomed to a certain lifestyle the judge can order the noncustodial parent to pay more. Conversely if the guidelines child support amount seems excessive the judge can determine that the amount needs to be reduced.

Child Support Agreements

The law does not allow parents to waive the power of the court to order child support belongs to the child and not the parents. However, parents can agree to an amount that is either higher or lower than the guideline amount. Unless such agreement is detrimental to the child, the court is likely to approve such an agreement. However, the court will retain jurisdiction to modify or change the amount later.

Failure To Pay Child Support

Child support obligations cannot be waived by anyone except a judge. If a parent is not paying his or her child support obligation the other party may enforce the order years later. In other words, there are no statutes of limitation. Failure to pay child support can result in wage garnishment, revocation of driver’s licenses or professional license and/or even jail time. So, if you owe back child support, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Because child support calculation is affected by custody arrangement and the income of the parties, it is important to talk to a family law attorney if child support is likely to become an issue in your case. A family law attorney can help you achieve your goals whether your goal is to collect child support or reduce