[COLUMN] Modifying down child and spousal support obligation after a divorce

Divorced parties are sometimes ordered to pay child support and spousal support in the divorce judgment.  The support orders are generally based on the parties’ financial situation and custody arrangements at the time of the settlement or trial. However, what if your income decreases after the divorce or what if your spouse’s income increases after the divorce due to a promotion or a better paying job? Do you have the right to modify your support obligation?

If your income has gone down substantially from the time that the child or spousal support determination, you may be able to file a modification of your support obligation. Losing a job or having less income constitutes a material change of circumstances that would allow the court to modify down your support obligations.

Child support in California is based on guideline formula. One of the factors that is considered in the guideline formula is your gross income. Usually the court would look at several months or even an average of the last 12 months income. If your average income has decreased, you may be able to modify your child support to a lower amount.  Bear in mind that there are other factors that come in the equation such as the amount of actual timeshare you spend with your child and the income of the other parent. If the other parent’s income has gone down, this may adversely affect your child support obligation.

Spousal support may also be modified unless you stipulated in a divorce judgment that it is non modifiable. However, spousal support are usually calculated differently than guideline. The court will look at other factors in deciding whether to modify this.  Those factors are listed in family code section 4320.

If you are unemployed, the other party may be expected to try to impute income on you.  However in light of the recent cases in California, they would have to prove that you had the ability and the opportunity to obtain employment.

If your income has gone down or your spouse’s income has increased as a result of  a new job, a promotion, or you got laid off or hours cut, it may be possible to modify both your child support and spousal support obligation. Without modifying the order, the current order will continue to be in effect and the same amount will accrue regardless of whether your income declined or your spouse income increased. It is important to file a post judgment request for order to modify support as soon as your financial situation changes.

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Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice.  The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information.  This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed.  The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you.  This article does create any attorney client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, APLC This article is not a solicitation.

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Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist.  He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association.  He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration.  He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, APLC. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010.  Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com.

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Atty. Kenneth Reyes

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 747, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail [email protected] or visit our website at Kenreyeslaw.com.

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