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Custody & Support Modifications

What Is the General Process for Modifying Child Support?

It goes without saying that it costs money to raise a child. When parents in California are married or are unmarried but in a relationship with each other, both contribute to the care of the child. And, if their relationship with each other doesn't last, both parents are still obligated to meet their child's financial needs so their child can grow up in a healthy, supportive and nurturing environment. To this end, when parents in California divorce or break-up, the court will issue a child support order, in which the noncustodial parent will pay a certain amount of money each month to the custodial parent.

Of course, as time marches on, people's lives change. The parents might have a new job, move to more (or less) expensive areas of the state and, of course, as children grow older, their needs change. After all, the financial demands that come with raising a toddler are very different than those that come with raising a teenager.

Therefore, sometimes one or both parents will want to seek a child support modification. To do so, the parent seeking the modification will need to demonstrate that a "change in circumstances" has occurred since the last time the child support order was issued or modified. Sometimes, parents can agree on their own as to a new amount of child support. If so, they can execute a stipulation to give to the court, wherein it will become enforceable.

If parents do not agree on changing the child support order, then the parent seeking a modification must execute certain forms. California courts have family law facilitators who can review these forms, or the person's attorney can do so. The forms will then be filed with the court. A court date will be issued, and the papers will then be served on the other parent. Proof of service will need to be filed with the court. A court hearing will be held. The judge will then decide whether or not to modify the current order of child support.

This is only a very brief overview of modifying child support in California. In the end, if a parent wants to change how much they pay or receive in child support, they may want to seek legal advice so they can move forward on sound footing.