Divorce proceedings often alter a family’s financial situation. In many cases, the final decree dictates how much money the higher-earning parent gives to the other for child support.
The arrangement aims to help the children enjoy the same quality of life and prevent hardships. California uses a formula to determine payments at the time of divorce, but a change in one’s income could lead to a modification.
When does a raise permit an increase in child support?
California allows a parent to file for a child support modification if either parent’s income changes significantly. Minor adjustments do not typically qualify for an increase in child support payments. (For example, an employer might boost a salary by 3% for the cost of living.) Instead, the court only considers increases of 10% or more.
Also, the pay increase must be ongoing. A seasonal spike in work, temporary overtime payments or a bonus does not qualify as a significant pay increase.
A spouse needs substantial evidence to show that a self-employed individual is enjoying a sustained rise in income. Obtaining this proof can be challenging due to the unpredictable nature of self-employed income.
Is a modification automatic?
Courts do not automatically grant modifications. A parent must file for the change and demonstrate that the increased amount is necessary to meet a child’s needs. The receiving parent would show that the original order was inadequate, that there has been a notable increase in the cost of living or that the child’s needs have increased.
This principle also means that child support payments could decrease when the receiving spouse gets a significant pay bump. In such cases, convincing the court to modify the agreement still requires strong evidence and proof that decreasing payment will not negatively impact the children.