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Pursuing a Modification of Child Support Orders in California


Pursuing a Modification of Child Support Orders in California

When can you get a court to modify a child support order?

The United States Census Bureau reports that the average amount of child support received by custodial parents is $3,431 per year.

California has numerous Family Codes regarding the modification of child support orders, such as Family Code Sections 4050- 4076.

A court may modify a child support order if the circumstances of the child, or affected person, have substantially changed since the date that the original order was granted.

This article will examine some of the essential elements of modification orders in California.

Separate Agreements

Before pursuing child support modification in a California court, there are several required steps that need to be taken and the party seeking the modification order should understand that separate agreements can be worked out with the other parent outside of court, assuming that both parties are cooperative.

If this is the case, the parties can come to an agreement independently. Once there is an agreement that complies with the Family Code Sections, it is then signed off by a judge and entered.

“Changed Circumstances” Defined

If a new mutual agreement cannot be reached, the court can assist the parties by making a decision for them.

To obtain a support modification order in California, the party seeking the modification must demonstrate “changed circumstances,” which are events that show that something significant has changed since the original order was granted that now makes a new order appropriate.

Some common examples of changed circumstances include imprisonment of the paying spouse, loss of employment, or an increase in income in either party.

Based on the circumstances of the case, either the party receiving the payment or the party who is providing the payment can seek a modification order.

How to Obtain A Modification Order in a California Court

There are several steps to obtain a modification support order in a California court.

First, the party seeking the modification should fill out all of the proper paperwork required for the court to modify the order or an offer letter to the other parent. Submitting documents to the court may include paying a filing fee.

The assistance of a Child Support Attorney, who is well versed in Family Law, to review this paperwork and help you settle or go to court, if needed, is essential to make sure that it is completed correctly.

If court becomes necessary, the forms should then be filed with the court, which will require that the parties properly serve the other party and file a proof of service with the court to show that the papers were served.

After the paperwork is properly filed, a hearing will be scheduled regarding the support modification.

At the hearing, a Judge will decide whether a modification is appropriate and make an order.


There are several limitations that exist regarding modification orders.

A court will not retroactively modify a support order or make payments that were due prior to the filing of the action subject to the modification.

As a result, it is in the party seeking the order’s best interest to file the paperwork as soon as possible to make sure that the changes to the support order are quickly put into effect.

Contact a Fresno and San Diego Family Law Attorney

Because modification orders can greatly affect the future of all involved parties, it is in your best interest to have the skill and experience of a seasoned Divorce and Family Law Attorney. Contact the Law Office of Rebecca Medina to help you with your child support needs in Fresno or San Diego, California.

Rebecca MedinaAbout the Author: Rebecca Medina

Rebecca Medina is an experienced Family Law attorney, mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer serving the Fresno and San Diego areas. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, QDROs and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated “Clients’ Choice” by Avvo.

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