How Can I Get My Child Support Order Modified?

Navigating the complexities of child support is a challenge many parents face. Circumstances change, and what once felt like a fair agreement may no longer suit the financial reality of either parent. If you find yourself in a situation where your current child support order in California no longer reflects your circumstances, it’s natural to question — how can I get my child support order modified?

When Can Child Support Be Modified in California?

Modification of child support orders in California can be requested when there has been a "change in circumstances."

Common reasons include:

  • A significant change in either parent's income
  • A parent has lost their job
  • A parent becomes disabled
  • A change in the custody arrangement
  • Special needs of the child that have arisen
  • Family size changes
  • A parent goes to jail or prison
  • A parent is deployed to active military service

California courts consider various factors, including each parent's income, tax filing status, and time spent with the children. After taking these factors into consideration, a modification may be granted if the support order would change by either 20% or $50, whichever is less.

How Soon Should You File for a Child Support Modification?

Timing can be critical. Filing for a modification should be done as soon as you become aware of a change in circumstances that could affect your ability to pay – or your need to receive – the agreed amount of child support. This is because modification does not happen retroactively. This means that the court will not go back to the date you lost your job to lower the child support payments.

Delaying your modification request could result in accruing debt if you are unable to make payments or missing out on much-needed funds if you are entitled to receive more than the original order specified. It's vital to act promptly to ensure your financial stability and the well-being of everyone involved.

How to Modify Child Support in California

To request a modification of child support, if both parents are in agreement, you can submit a written agreement to the judge. However, if there is a disagreement, you can file a Request for Order (form FL-300) to formally request a modification.

You have a few options to initiate the adjustment process. You can either reach out to a local child support agency or seek the assistance of a skilled child support modification attorney. Hiring a seasoned attorney can help you navigate the process and have a legal advocate translate legal jargon and advise you.

Does the California Court Always Agree to a Modification Order?

It's important to know that the court's decision to modify child support is not guaranteed. For example, A raise at work or a slight change in living expenses may not be enough to warrant a modifiable change in the child support order.

The court will carefully review the evidence presented to determine whether the change is significant enough to modify the support. It will always prioritize the best interests of the child.

How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?

Generally, the obligation to provide support typically stops when a child reaches 18 years old and completes high school. However, if the child is still enrolled full-time in high school and unable to financially support themselves, the obligation ends upon graduation or when they turn 19, whichever comes first.

Other circumstances that terminate the duty include marriage, entering a domestic partnership, military service, emancipation, or death. Nonetheless, if the child has a disability and cannot support themselves, or if the parents mutually agree, the support may continue even after the child turns 18 (or 19).

Contact Our Team for Help

If you’re considering a child support modification, obtaining expert advice can be crucial to success. Laws can be complex, and legal counsel may help you navigate the process more effectively. Our team of modification attorneys at Family Law San Diego can be here to offer guidance and support you through every step as you work to protect your and your child's well-being.

Should you have any questions or require assistance with your child support modification, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Dial (619) 577-4900 or message our firm online to get started.