Modifying a child support order in California

Many people in the San Francisco area who have endured the stress of a divorce involving minor children often view the final decree as inalterable and assume that it can never be modified. Happily, that bleak view does not reflect the law that governs potential changes to child support orders in California. A child support order issued by a California court can be modified if the person requesting the change can prove the existence of “a change in circumstances” that necessitates amending the order for support.

While California judges prefer that the parents negotiate and agree to any changes to the original child support arrangements, one parent can ask the court to act on his or her request. A change in circumstances usually involves one or more of the following factors:

  1. A change in the income of one or both parents
  2. The incarceration of one parent
  3. One or both parents have lost their jobs
  4. One parent has a child from another relationship who now requires support
  5. The child’s needs have changed, perhaps because of a serious injury or debilitating illness.

The person requesting the modification of support is usually required to provide the following information:

  1. The parent’s income and expenses
  2. Child care expenses
  3. Medical insurance premiums and benefits
  4. Relevant disability information, including Social Security and Supplemental Security benefits
  5. Incarceration status, if applicable
  6. Unemployment benefits
  7. Retirement Income
  8. Custody and visitation arrangements

Modifying a child support order can be a complex and difficult task. The assistance of an experienced family lawyer can make the job much easier. A knowledgeable lawyer can assist in gathering and presenting the evidence to the court, making any necessary court appearances and, if required, appealing the matter to a higher court.