Can I Modify My Child Support Payment?

A parent with custody of a child can ask for child support from the other parent to help with the cost of raising that child. Sometimes a parent who is ordered to pay child support may experience difficulty in paying the ordered amount, or the parent receiving support may seek an increase in the amount received. As with most court ordered payments, a party seeking to make a change to the order must go to court to ask for a modification to the order. It is very important to request this change as quickly as possible using proper legal procedures.

What does the court consider when modifying child support orders in California?

In most cases, a court will change a child support order if the court finds there are changed circumstances to the paying party’s situation. The changed circumstances that might warrant a modification can include:

  • The income of either parent has changed
  • One parent has lost his/her job
  • One parent has another child from another relationship
  • One parent is incarcerated
  • There is a shift in the time share of the child(ren)
  • The child’s needs have changed
  • One parent is ill

One parent has returned to school to obtained a higher degree

Generally, to obtain an order modifying an existing child support order, a significant change must occur, enabling the parties to continue with the existing support. However, it is not always necessary to rush to court, request a hearing, and argue your position, when the parties can mutually and in writing come to an agreement (also known as stipulation). If the parents can agree on the amount of change, they can sign an agreement stating so and bring it to the court where the order can be changed. Otherwise, it will be necessary to file a Request for Order and get a hearing date, at which time a judge will review the request and all information and sign the modified order if he/she grants the change.