How to Modify a Child Support Order

Even if your child support has already been formally established, circumstances change, and so you can go back and ask for a modification. Whether you need the adjustment to be short-term or indefinite, here’s what you need to know about how to modify a child support order in court.

Changed Circumstances

In California, child support modification can only be made if the parent making the request can show a “chance in circumstance” that requires an alteration of the child support order. Examples of a change in circumstance that would warrant a modification include:

  • Change in income
  • Change in child’s needs
  • Incarceration
  • Lost job
  • Child from another relationship

If such changes occur, the parent requesting the child support order modification must let the appropriate family court know immediately. If a parent is unable to make a payment, they should not ignore the payment, as it can have severe consequences. Another reason why immediate notification is important is because the court can only change future child support payments, and not back payments, so you’ll still need to pay the full amount until the required modifications are made.

Required Information

In order to make the child support order change, you should hire an experienced family law attorney to help you draft the necessary petition. Information needed for the petition includes:

  • Parent's income and expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Medical insurance
  • Disability information (if applicable)
  • Jail or prison status (if applicable)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Custody and visitation arrangements

Temporary vs. Permanent Modifications

The court may either grant a temporary or permanent modification of child support. A temporary modification is a one-time expenditure for the needs of a child, such as school supplies or the cost of braces. A permanent modification reflects a significant change in the child’s needs, such as the associated expenses with a permanent disability.

Granting Modification

Generally, a modification is allowed if the change to the child support is 20% or $50, whichever is less. However, the parents can agree on the amount of chance if they sign an agreement stating so and bring it to the court, where the judge can make the change. Otherwise, it’s necessary to get a date for a hearing, where the judge reviews the request and all the information and signs the modification order if they grant the change.

To learn more about child support order modifications, please contact me, the Westlake Village family lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff today. I understand the difficulties of navigating the family legal system on your own, which is why I am are here to provide you with the personalized legal solutions you need.

Call (805) 633-4999 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation.

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