Are Child Support Payments Modifiable?

  • By Steven Medearis
  • 12 Jul, 2017

As a parent who's raising a child of divorce in California, you may be relying on child support payments to help cover the cost of raising your family. But what if your situation, or the situation of your ex-spouse, changes dramatically?

Child support payments can, in fact, be modified. The Spruce states that there are many different factors that can lead up to you needing to request a child support payment modification . Most of them involve the income of you or your ex-spouse. The top reasons for modification requests include:

  • Decreased income
  • Increased income or substantial inheritance
  • A change in family dynamics
  • A child growing older

In the case of the latter, as a child grows older, you'll likely need to spend more money on them as they get more involved with extracurricular activities, social activities, and academics. This may require an increase in child support payments.

Changes in family dynamics can also lead to a modification request. For example, if the parent who pays child support remarries and has other children to provide for, the child support may be lowered. It may also be lowered if you remarry and are able to draw from a different financial source to help support your child.

In the end, courts try to keep child support payments as fair as possible. Because your situation or the situation of your ex-spouse will likely not stay the same over time, it's important to allow for modifications to be made to the support payment arrangement when necessary.

Vista California Family Law Blog

By Steven Medearis 04 Oct, 2017

The "burning bed" defense would forever change the way domestic violence was viewed. A legal strategy served as a catalyst for all legislation regarding domestic abuse. Equally as important, it would also establish the way law enforcement approaches the criminal act.

Francine Wilson went to trial for killing her abusive husband  in a landmark spousal abuse case that became the subject of a book and television movie, "The Burning Bed."

Wilson passed away on March 22 of complications from pneumonia at the age of 69.

In 1977, Wilson, whose last name was then Hughes, took the life of her husband, James "Mickey" Hughes, in 1977 by setting fire to their bed while he slept.

Her testimony at trial painted a grim picture of the horrors she endured  at the hands of her husband. Arjen Greydanus, Wilson's defense attorney, said that the account she gave the jury was effective in her being found not guilty due to temporary insanity.

At the time, temporary insanity was not a recognized defense. Greydanus was certain that a traditional self-defense approach would not have resulted in a not-guilty verdict.

The case captured the attention of the nation. Wilson's story became the subject of a book and a 1984 TV movie "The Burning Bed" starring Farrah Fawcett. Greydanus' legal "hook" became well known as the "burning-bed" defense.

Jim Hughes, Wilson's son, recalled the bad times that outweighed the good. As a child, he could only watch as the police showed up at the family home, only to leave without doing anything. His mom would be battered and bloody after his father threatened her life.

He also recalled that after the trial, book and movie, his mother was ready to put it all behind her. She considered that chapter of her life over.

Wilson would eventually remarry and move to Tennessee before settling in Alabama, working as a licensed practical nurse.

By Steven Medearis 08 Sep, 2017

There is no way to be 100 percent prepared for the divorce process. Even if you have a solid grasp of what this will entail, there are sure to be challenges along the way.

There are many things you can do to prepare for divorce, which can help you make the right decisions as the process moves forward.

Here are some of the top steps to take :

  • Get professional help. There are many types of professionals who can assist you during this difficult time, ranging from an attorney to a tax professional.
  • Review your finances. You need to know where you stand with respect to your finances. This includes everything from the amount of money you earn to how much debt you are carrying.
  • Open your own accounts. Now that your marriage is just about over, you need to open your own accounts. This can include a bank account, retirement account and credit cards, among others.
  • Make changes to your estate plan. This is one of the most overlooked things that you can do to prepare for divorce. Your estate plan will need some adjustments now that you will be single in the near future.

Along with this, you need to prepare for what the future could bring with respect to your children (if you have any). Address questions such as:

  • Where will your children live?
  • How will you ensure that you remain a big part of their life?
  • Will you owe child support?
  • Are you in position to receive child support?

Answering these questions will give you a clear idea of what to expect down the road.

It is hard to prepare for divorce , as you don't know what will happen as the weeks and months go by. Even so, you should do whatever you can to put yourself on the right track. This will improve the likelihood of a smooth and efficient process.

By Steven Medearis 06 Sep, 2017

Understanding the types of domestic violence in California can help you determine if you are a victim of this form of abuse. While most people recognize that physical abuse is not okay, there are other forms that are less common, but just as destructive. We at the Law Office of Steven Medearis have outlined some types that are not as well-known so that you can get help if you are caught in a dangerous relationship.

According to American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, your partner can actually commit spiritual abuse  by controlling your family's religious preferences. If he or she ridicules you, prevents you from practicing or forces beliefs that you do not agree with onto your children, this is considered spiritual abuse. Manipulating you with spiritual beliefs is also wrong.

Other forms of abuse can concern your economic or financial situation. If your partner demands that you choose a certain occupation or prevents you from working altogether, you may be experiencing this type of abuse. This can also happen if your partner withholds shelter, clothes, food or other physical resources from you as punishment or an incentive. Other more obvious forms of financial abuse are stealing or withholding money.

Many people do not realize that their partner can be charged with stalking, but certain actions are illegal, even within a marriage. If your spouse unexpectedly shows up at your work to check on you, goes through your garbage, repeatedly calls you or tries to get information about you from your family members or friends, this can be considered stalking. For more information  on domestic violence, please visit our web page.

By Steven Medearis 01 Sep, 2017

California parents who are splitting up will have to deal with issues of child custody. If you're going into a custody battle, you'll need to know what sort of factors can determine who is awarded primary custody, and what might be a strike against you if you're trying to win it.

The Spruce lists out a number of different factors that courts take into consideration when determining how to deal with child custody . Some are obvious factors, such as whether or not you have a criminal history or any felonies on your record. Your physical and mental health will also be taken into consideration, as there are some situations in which one parent may not be considered fit to raise a child on their own by the courts.

The interpersonal relationships in your family will also likely be scrutinized. For example, how well you and your ex-spouse can get along will be examined. Your closeness with the child in question may be looked at as well. Consistency and provisional capabilities are also big factors. For example, if you were taking care of your child for the majority of your relationship, the judge may vote for this to continue for the sake of normalcy. If you have the ability to financially provide for your child in a better way than your ex-spouse, this may also be considered.

In the end, no two cases of child custody are determined in the same way. It's all up to your unique dynamic as a family, and your relationships with one another.

By Steven Medearis 25 Aug, 2017

When many in California think of divorce, often thoughts of a contentious battle between spouses come to mind. Yet divorcing couples across the country are trying to change the face of divorcing families in order to protect their children.

As USA Today reports, an increasing number of divorcing spouses are looking for ways to keep the peace  so the family unit remains close to unchanged. This may look like a divorced couple becoming neighbors so their children can walk between houses or the entire family celebrating the holidays together. While this is not a solution for couples where there is abuse involved, many couples splitting up are able to put their feelings aside for the kids and remain in amicable communication.

When this is possible, a new study suggests that it can benefit the children's long-term health. According to reports from Reuters, research from Carnegie Mellon University found links between bitter divorces and lower immune responses  in adults whose parents divorced in their childhood. After quarantining 201 healthy adults who were exposed to a common cold virus, the researchers monitored the adults for signs of respiratory illness. The participants who had parents divorce in childhood and stop speaking to one another were 3.3 times as likely to develop a cold than those who had parents who stayed together. Those who had their parents divorce as children but remain in contact had no increased risk of contracting the virus. The participants whose parents had bitter divorces also showed increased signs of inflammation, which researchers believe could be part of the reason they contracted the virus.

This study is part of a growing body of work showing that children of divorce suffer health effects. However, this is the first study to suggest that the level of acrimony in the divorce could actually be a significant factor for the children involved.

By Steven Medearis 17 Aug, 2017

There are many aspects of a military divorce in California that can make the entire process more complicated. Constant changes in schedules due to deployment and other duty requirements can be seen as a drawback, but there are also some benefits that can be found in this type of divorce. We at the Law Office of Steven Medearis can explain the Uniformed Services Former Spouse's Protection Act and how it can help you.

 According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the fact that you had a spouse in the military does not automatically qualify you to receive payment  under the USFSPA. When you are completing the negotiations of a dissolution, annulment, divorce or legal separation and determining property division, the final court order must include payment of a portion of your ex-spouse's retirement pay as awarded by the judge. If this is done, you will be entitled to receive a portion of this fund.

While many former couples qualify for enforcement by the Act, there are several situations that do not meet requirements. In some cases, your entitlement to the retirement pay can be covered under the USFSPA, even if your divorce happened decades ago. Some court orders that were issued before June 26,1981, can still be eligible if all qualifications of the Act are met.

If your ex-spouse refuses to deliver the payments according to the prescribed timing, the USFSPA dictates how you can enforce the order with help from the Department of Defense. For more information  on the best ways to handle a military divorce, please visit our web page.

By Steven Medearis 11 Aug, 2017

Finances are just one of many concerns that divorcing parents in California must deal with. Primary custody parents will have to adjust to raising a child largely on their own, while the parent without primary custody may have to make several different types of support payments.

HowStuffWorks.com shows that alimony and child support  are two entirely different types of support payments. Child support payments are intended to go toward the child and only the child. They usually help with things like medicines, doctor visits, school, extracurricular activities, and other things that may enrich your child's life. Alimony, on the other hand, is used to help buffer your ex-spouse's finances because they aren't used to living with only their own income. The amount of money you may have to pay for both can vary depending on the financial situations of you and your spouse.

You may have to pay both alimony and child support. However, child support payments will stop when the child reaches the age of 18 or 21, depending on state laws and the agreement. Additionally, it's usually the spouse with a higher paycheck that's required to make alimony payments. If you're the one with a lower income, then this may not be required of you. It should also be noted that alimony payments are tax deductibles. Child support payments are not.

In any case, these payments can be adjusted according to fairness. If you feel as though you're being unfairly saddled with payments that you can't afford to make, you may wish to see a legal professional who can help you determine what can be done to balance the financial situation.

By Steven Medearis 09 Aug, 2017

If you and your spouse decide to move forward with the divorce process, it's important that you do so in a responsible manner.

In the event that you have a child together, you'll need to discuss this with him or her at some point (as long as they are old enough to know what is happening).

While there is nothing easy about discussing divorce with your child, there are some steps you can take  to plan for this:

  • Write out what you want to say. This is one of the most important things you can do, as it will help keep the conversation on track from start to finish.
  • Pick the right time and place. You don't want to have this conversation on a whim. Instead, schedule a time and place that makes sense for you, your child and your spouse (if he or she will be present).
  • Think like your child. Forget about thinking like an adult for the time being. You should put yourself in your child's shoes, as this can help you formulate a better strategy.
  • Answer every question. Your child is sure to have questions, so make sure you do whatever it takes to provide an answer. It's not always easy to answer questions during this time, but you need to do so if you want to help your child process what is going on.
  • Be honest. This is not a time to lie to your child. Be open and honest as to what is going on.

These are just a few of the many things you can do before telling your child about divorce , as well as when you are in the midst of the conversation.

Remember this: Your marriage may be over, but you still want to do what is best for your child. If your ex-spouse attempts to stop you from doing just that, you will need to consider your legal options. You don't want your relationship with your child to die.

By Steven Medearis 03 Aug, 2017

California couples who have children and are thinking about divorce should be be aware of the laws regarding child custody. Findlaw.com explains that the overriding concern of California courts is the best interests of the child . This means that courts take into consideration such things as the age, physical and emotional health, and school and community ties of each child in determining what is best for him or her. In addition, they look at the history, if any, of family abuse or neglect.

There are two kinds of child custody as stated by the California court system. Legal custody  pertains to which parent makes the important decisions regarding the education, health care, and welfare of the child. Such decisions include schooling or child care, sports and other extracurricular activities, religious affiliation and activities, and vacations and other travel. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with.

Both legal and physical custody can be sole or joint. As the word implies, divorced couples sharing joint legal custody both have the right to make important decisions regarding their children. Parents sharing joint physical custody each have the opportunity for the children to live with them. Such time need not be exactly half-and-half. Children generally spend more time with one parent, called the primary custodial parent, because of practical considerations. Sometimes, depending on a variety of circumstances, a judge will grant joint legal custody, but sole physical custody. Both parents thus have a say in important decisions about the children, but they live with one parent only, although the noncustodial parent has visitation in most such situations.

If a substantial change occurs in the personal circumstances of a parent or in the needs of the child after the initial custody order has been issued, either parent can request the court to modify it. The court will once again consider the best interests of the child before making any modifications.

By Steven Medearis 01 Aug, 2017

On June 23, 2017, a district attorney in California was arrested on charges of domestic misdemeanor battery , according to a July 5 story by the Los Angeles Times. The Pomona police incident report states that authorities had responded to a call of domestic disturbance. Upon arrival at the family home, the wife initially informed police she had been struck on the arm by her husband. However, as the police began to place her husband under arrest, the wife “began to frame the incident as a misunderstanding.” Although the wife did not want the husband prosecuted, he was taken into custody. While it is not clear that the wife here recanted her statement to the police, the incident does prompt questions about recantation in domestic violence cases.

According to the National District Attorneys Association, recantation occurs in 75 percent of domestic violence cases .  Victims in family violence cases may also attempt to avoid prosecution of violent family members, assume blame for related circumstances or downplay the seriousness of altercations. These efforts are anomalous when considering other criminal cases due to the close personal relationship between the victim and the offender. After evaluating the consequences their statements may have on a family member who has been violent, many victims who want to avoid the prosecution and conviction of loved ones seek to recant their statements because it appears to be “the safest and most prudent course of action.”

Statements and testimony should not be procured through abuse of the legal process. Likewise, recantation of statements should be made only where appropriate under the law, without intimidation, threat or coercion of any kind.

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