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Can my child support be modified in California?

When there is an order for child support in California, circumstances can arise in which it can be modified. This can be requested by the custodial parent who is receiving support or the noncustodial parent who is paying support. Parents who are in a situation in which they believe that a child support modification is warranted should understand the criteria that the state uses to decide.

The child support order can be modified if one of the following issues in in place: there is a significant increase or decrease in the earnings of either one of the parents, there was a change in custody or a change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent, one of the parents is in the military or has been deployed, or if there was a change in any other matter that would have an influence on the guidelines.

When the request to modify the order of support is made, it must be in writing with the list of reasons as to why there should be a change. The modification can be justified if it will change the support order by $50 or 20 percent, whichever is lower. The agency will review the order if there is a significant change in the circumstances of a parent such as job loss, a new job or the custody and visitation being changed. If a person chooses to quit a job, that does not qualify as a reason for there to be a review. If it is decided that the modification should be made, the court will be asked to make the change. The agency will have six months to ask for the change.

The parent seeking modification should provide the following information: income and expenses, expenses for child care, medical insurance coverage, unemployment information, jail or incarceration status, the arrangement for visitation and custody and any other information that might be important. If the agency decides that there should not be a review, the parent can ask the court to review it. Parents who agree that the order should be changed can file that with the court.

For parents who believe that a child support modification is necessary, it is wise to discuss the matter with an experienced legal professional. These family legal issues can be complex and rife with dispute. It is very often a mistake to address them without help. Speaking to a family law attorney can be essential.

Source: childsup.ca.gov, "Modifying the child support order, pages 21-22," accessed on April 25, 2017

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