When you and your former spouse set up your initial child custody and support agreements, it is likely not the end of those discussions. As children grow, their needs will likely change discuss what you may expect when paying child support throughout your child’s life.
When Do You Start Paying Child Support?
If you and your spouse legally separate before getting divorced, that may also be the start of your child support payments. The judge or your attorney may set up temporary orders for monetary relief to the primary parent during a legal separation. However, if that setup is working for you both and you choose to move forward with a divorce, you may opt to carry the same agreement over.
Otherwise, you’ll start paying child support once you and your spouse formalize your agreement or the court makes an official ruling on the required amount.
Child Support for Young Children
Child support funds are meant to be used for:
- Medical expenses
- School expenses
For young children, these costs can be kept relatively low. However, as children age, they may require more funds depending on their needs, hobbies, and more.
Child Support for Teenagers
Once your children reach the teenage years, they may be more involved in expensive hobbies. For example, playing school sports that require travel, equipment, lessons, and more.
Additional costs that may fall under child support include:
- A car
- Car insurance
- Phone bills
- Increased food consumption
- Personal care items
If the rising cost of raising a teenager is too much, it might be time to re-evaluate your child support agreement and seek a modification.
Child Support Modifications
Children’s needs change over time, and luckily, the agreement you make early in your divorce are able to be amended too. As a primary caregiver, if you need to increase your child support payments to afford to raise your child, you may request a modification. A family law attorney can help you through this process. However, you’ll need to prove that there is a valid reason for the increase. If the courts see reasonable cause for increased payments, they’ll grant the modification.
On the other hand, if you're the non-custodial parent and you want to contest the increase, or you cannot afford higher payments, you'll still want to contact an experienced attorney for assistance.
Child Support and College
In California, child support stops whenever the child turns 18 unless they are still in high school at that time. Then, child support will terminate once they graduate. This also means that child support payments are not used to cover college costs, even for basic necessities like room and board. At that point, it is up to the individual parent to decide whether or not they want to contribute more financially and how much.
How Often Should You Modify Your Child Support Agreement?
There is no set timeline for when you need to make modifications. In some cases, you could go many years without needing to make any official changes. Instead, make modifications when you feel it’s necessary.
This may be:
- As your child’s expenses increase/decrease
- Change in income by one or both parents
- Change in cost of living
You won’t be granted a modification without a valid cause, so ensure that whatever your reason, you have solid examples for why you need payments to increase or decrease.
California Child Support Attorney and Family Law Specialist
If you need assistance setting up a child support agreement for the first time, or you need to seek a modification to your original plan, Attorney Robert Curtis at Curtis Family Law can help. We can go over your case together and build a strong argument for why your support order needs to change. Call today to begin: (562) 315-7107.