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If you need to modify your child support order, the Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates can help. We understand how to best present your case to the court. Call us for a free consultation.

What is the procedure for modifying child support?

After a judge has made a child support order, one or both parents may request a change in the order. A parent seeking a change in support will normally have to show that there has been a significant “change in circumstances” that justifies the change in child-support.

If a judge ordered an amount of support that is below the amount specified in the state guidelines, a parent can seek a change in support even without showing a change in circumstances.

To seek a change in support, a parent must file a motion for modification with the court. Your chances of a obtaining a positive outcome are greatly enhanced by hiring a qualified family law attorney.

What are grounds for child support modification?

Grounds for changing child support orders include:

  • The income of one or both parents has increased or decreased.
  • A parent has found or lost a job.
  • A parent has been sent to jail or prison.
  • A parent has had a new child, or has become a stepparent.
  • There has been a significant change in how much time the child spends with each parent.
  • The financial needs of the child have changed with respect to education, healthcare, childcare, etc.
  • Any of the factors used to calculate child support originally have changed.

What do I have to establish to modify support?

You will need to show that there has been a material change of circumstances. Making five dollars more or less per week, for example, will not justify a change in support. The decision of whether the circumstances have sufficiently changed rests in the hands of the family court judge. The court’s decision is reversible only if there has been an abuse of discretion.

What if I become unemployed?

Normally, becoming unemployed would be considered a significant change in circumstances that would justify a change in child-support. However, sometimes people become unemployed voluntarily.

If the judge feels that a parent is intentionally avoiding work, then the judge may order that parent to continue paying support just as if he or she was still employed.

Is a child support order retroactive?

No. Child support may not be changed retroactively. This means that if conditions change, but you wait several months to seek modification, the judge may not order an adjustment in payments going back to the date of the change. A judge may only modify support starting from the date the motion seeking modification is filed (California Family Code § 4009).

Thus, it’s important to ask for support to be modified as soon as possible after your circumstances change.

What if I want to modify child support down, and my spouse wants it to go up?

Whenever you go to court to modify a child support order, you run the risk that the judge will not only refuse to grant your request but will do the exact opposite of what you want.

A judge will consider evidence presented by both parties. Your child’s other parent may also have changed circumstances you don’t know about. In general, family law judges focus on making sure that the child or children have sufficient funds. In other words, the needs of the children is by far the most important consideration.

How can I prepare for a court hearing on modifying my current child support order?

If you are the parent asking for a change in support, you will have to present evidence showing that there has been a change in circumstances. It’s not enough to simply say that your circumstances have changed.

For example, to show a change in income you may need to present evidence such as:

  • a paystub
  • a pink slip or other termination notice
  • a copy of an unemployment check
  • a tax return
  • a screenshot of the other parent’s LinkedIn page, showing that he or she has a new job
  • testimony of witnesses

To learn more about how to prepare for any family law hearing, click here.

Can I get my child-support modified without going to court?

If your former spouse or partner is reasonable, you may be able to agree to a modification in child support without going before a judge. If you need a little help in reaching an agreement, you can seek the assistance of a family law facilitator.

A family law facilitator will not make a decision for you like a judge would. Instead, a family law facilitator will mediate between the parents and help them reach an agreement that they both can live with.

You can find the Los Angeles family law facilitator clicking here.

If you’re able to reach an agreement about modifying support, either with or without the help of a family law facilitator, you will still want to have a judge sign off on your agreement so that you can enforce it later in case the other parent doesn’t comply with it.

Each time a court makes a new child support order, even if it’s based on an agreement between the parents, each parent will have to fill out a new Child Support Case Registry Form. This puts your case in a national registry to help enforce child support later on.

As long as you and your child’s other parent are on speaking terms, it doesn’t hurt to at least try to work out modification on your own. You can still go before a judge if you find you can’t agree.

How can I learn more?

You can learn more by visiting the child-support page on our site or by visiting this page on changing a child support order published by the Judicial Branch of California.

Speak to a Los Angeles Modification of Child Support Attorney Today

At Berenji & Associates, we have over 20 years of combined experience helping parents modify child support. We understand that child support can be stressful, regardless of which side you’re on. Let us analyze your situation and give you an honest assessment of how to best move forward.

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