When California family law judges issue child support orders, the monthly payment is based on the incomes of both parents and the custody arrangements in place. If these factors change significantly, the amount the noncustodial parent is required to pay may be increased or decreased. These changes are called child support modifications, and noncustodial or custodial parents or guardians can request them at any time. Parents or guardians who request child support modifications are not charged a fee.
Reasons for requesting a child support modification
Child support modifications are granted when the requesting party can prove that the circumstances of the case have changed significantly. Requests to modify child support are usually made when a parent has been laid off or their income has decreased substantially, but they may also be requested when the needs of the child or custody arrangements change.
The child support modification process
When both parents agree that a child support order should be modified, they can sign a “Stipulated Agreement” and submit it to the court. These agreements can be obtained from most local child support agencies. If the parents do not agree, a hearing before a judge or child support commissioner will be held. During this hearing, the party requesting the modification will be expected to produce paystubs, financial records, childcare bills or other documents to support their argument that a change is needed.
Child support orders in California may be modified if the situations of either parent or the needs of the child change significantly. Parents can agree that a modification is necessary, or the change can be ordered by a judge or child support commissioner. Judges or child support commissioners usually award modifications when changes in circumstances will lead to an increase or decrease of at least $50 if the monthly payment is less than $250 or 20% if the monthly payment is more than $250.