In re Marriage of Alter:
This was a recent case that emphasized how important it is for you to consider reducing child support when your income goes down.
In this case, the father had agreed to pay a fixed $4,000 in child support each month. Specifically, the parties had agreed that the father’s obligations were non-modifiable as long as the child support remained in effect. However, the father’s income dropped since agreeing to the $4,000 per month.
Use our California Child Support Calculator to verify that you aren’t paying too much in support.
The court of appeals found that the child support was still modifiable because of a change in circumstances, regardless of the prior agreement. This case emphasized child support in California is modifiable at any time, and when circumstances change, the court is able to modify the agreement regardless of any contrary ruling. It would also apply to the reverse situation, where the recipient of child support loses their job or received a pay cut and needs an increase in support.
The take-home message is that if your economic circumstances change, you need to see an attorney to re-visit the issue of child support. If you lose your job, if you get a pay cut, or if your business is not doing well, now is the time to ask the court to recalculate child support. If you don’t take action, your old support order will continue and you’ll build up child support arrears.
The potential for a sudden change of circumstances is why it’s important to call the attorneys at Bohm Wildish & Matsen to ensure your child support is reduced, increased, or eliminated until you’re back on stable feet. The worst thing you can do is nothing, or agree on an informal “verbal agreement,” which is effectively worthless.
Verbal agreements to reduce support will not be upheld in court and you will end up owing a lot of back-due support, as well as interest when your ex-spouse breaks your verbal agreement. Child support continues to accrue until and unless you have a court order modifying the support. It’s important that the agreement is prepared correctly and filed with the court, otherwise, there’s no protection.
If you’re facing the loss of employment, reduced income, or general financial hardships, you need to take action today and see the attorneys at Bohm Wildish & Matsen to get your child support reduced.