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When a child mostly lives with one parent, the other parent might pay child support so that both parties share financial responsibility for a child’s needs. However, not everyone who owes child support makes payments. California residents might wonder what happens when a parent cannot afford these payments.

Census Bureau data from 2015 found that only around 45% of parents owed child support were given the full amount. While some may refuse or forget to make payments, many parents simply cannot afford the designated amount.

Child support calculations are typically made based on factors like income and the number of children involved. When a change of circumstances occurs that no longer makes it possible to keep paying the same amount, a parent can request a modification.

To obtain a child support modification, a formal request can be made in the state a child support order was granted in. A parent can contact a state’s Child Support Enforcement Office to start the process of applying for a modification.

Changes in income or employment may constitute a change of circumstances. Additionally, a parent could become sick and have medical expenses. Changes to an order may also be needed as a child grows up and new costs arise.

Either parent could request a child support modification when a change in circumstances occurs. Making a request does not guarantee that it will be granted. Before going to court, both parents could attempt to reach a new child support agreement together. Getting any changes approved in court ensures that the child support order is enforceable and that no one is penalized.

When dealing with divorce and family law matters, a parent may wish to consult an attorney. The attorney may review a new child support agreement and point out any issues that might prevent a judge from approving the changes.