Changing a Child Support Order in California

Once child support has been awarded, if circumstances change, either parent can return to court and ask that the amount be changed. However, unless both parents agree to the change, there must be a change in the payer and/or payee’s circumstances to allow for the change. The only exception is if the current amount of support awarded is below the guideline amount. (Guideline amount is based on a computer program known as “Dissomaster.” Factors, such as number of children and their ages, income of parents, and time children spent with each parent, are input in the program with a suggested amount for child support calculated and produced.)

There are many reasons courts will allow a change in child support. Examples are:

The amount of time spent through custody and visitation with each parent has changed.

One of the parents loses his or her job or other source of income.

One of the parents has increased his or her income.

One of the parents is sent to jail or prison.

The specific needs of the child (or children) has changed. A child may develop medical conditions increasing costs. Or, as children age, their needs change and often their expenses increase. Also, there could be a decrease, for instance, if child care is no longer needed.

To change a child support order, either parent must file a request (known as a “motion”) with the Court where the case originally was filed. Even if both parents agree to the change in support amount, it must be signed by the Judge to ensure that the new agreement would be binding on both parents.

Either parent can request a modification of child support without an attorney by filling out the proper forms and filing the paperwork with the court. For help in filing out the forms in Los Angeles County, visit the family law facilitator website at:

However, if the request for a change in child support is complicated and/or the other parent does not want a change, it may be best to hire a family law specialist to affect the change.

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