Is Child Support Impacted by a Salary Increase?

Posted in Child Support on November 29, 2021

If your divorce case involves minor children, it will most likely end with a child support agreement or order. Child support is meant to maintain a child’s quality of living after a divorce or legal separation. In California, child support is based mainly on each parent’s income. If this income changes after a divorce has been finalized – such as if you get a raise or a new job – this may change your child support payment.

When Is a Child Support Modification Required?

In California, altering or modifying a child support payment is only necessary if there is a substantial change in a parent’s finances that occurs after the court makes the original order. Although what qualifies as substantial can vary from case to case, in general, there must be at least a 15 percent change in income to warrant a child custody modification. If your new job or raise led to at least a 15 percent increase in income, therefore, you may need to submit new financial information to the courts.

A child support payment modification for an increase in income is also only necessary if the current child support amount is not enough for the child’s needs. This is the only time that an increase in income will lead to an increase in a child support payment obligation in California. If there has also been an increase in the cost of living, for instance, your increase in income could translate into higher child support payments. 

If you are the parent who is receiving child support, your raise or new job may reduce the amount of the payments given to you by your ex-spouse, as your increase in income may make up a gap or disparity between how much you make and how much your ex makes. If you are the parent paying child support, the amount that you must pay could increase if the courts believe it is necessary to support the needs of your child. 

What to Do if You Get a Raise as a Divorced Parent in California

If you do not believe that your raise or new job changes your income substantially enough to warrant a child support modification, you most likely will not need to do anything differently. You and your ex-spouse can continue using the same child support arrangement that you have been using since your divorce. If you are unsure if you need to change your child support amount, you can consult with a local family law attorney for advice. An attorney can answer your child support questions after reviewing the specific facts of your case.

If you find out that your ex-spouse has gotten a new job or raise, talk to him or her to find out if the new income is at least 15 percent higher than what he or she reported during your divorce. If so, this may warrant a request to the courts to modify the amount that you are receiving or paying in child support. If you don’t think you can trust your ex-spouse to be honest about his or her change in finances or to request the modification himself or herself, you have the right as the other parent to submit a child support modification request to the courts.

Upon submitting your request, a judge will contact your ex-spouse and request updated financial documents to verify whether there has been a substantial change in income since the original court order was given. Then, the judge will determine if there has also been a change in your child’s financial needs. If so, the courts may order a modification to the child support payment amount to fit the new circumstances. 

For more information about child support payment modifications in Solana Beach, California, contact the attorneys at Ratzer|Dobis. We offer free consultations.