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Can a Child Support Order Be Changed in California?


Many newly-divorced parents don’t realize it but child support is open-ended. Meaning, it is subject to being changed in the future; it’s not necessarily a fixed amount. In life and reality, there are so many factors that come into play that can give rise to what’s called a child support modification.

Once a California judge issues a child support order, either parent can go back to court and ask for the monthly child support amount to be increased or decreased. If you wish to petition the court for a modification, you will have to show the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original child support order was issued.

Good Reasons for a Modification

There are several valid reasons why a judge may decide to change a child support order. Such reasons include:

  • One or both of the parents’ incomes have changed
  • One parent has become unemployed
  • The noncustodial parent is incarcerated
  • One of the parents has a child from another relationship
  • The child has moved in with the noncustodial parent
  • The child is spending significantly more time at the noncustodial parent’s home
  • The child’s needs, such as childcare, education, or healthcare, have increased in cost
  • The factors that calculate child support have changed

Suppose you or your ex want to change the monthly child support amount. In that case, it is possible to reach an agreement on the new amount of child support, however, you will need to have the stipulation put in writing so a judge can sign off on it and incorporate the agreed-upon amount in a new court order.

If you and your ex can’t reach such an agreement, the parent seeking a change will need to file a motion with the court asking for a modification. Without a judge’s signature on the change and a new court order, the existing child support order will be in force.

“Can we simply have a verbal agreement and not get the court involved?” No, that is not recommended. Without the judge signing the new order, the child support amount will not change and the existing order will be in effect, and it will be legally enforceable in court.

If you need legal assistance with a child support matter, contact Arnold Law Group, APC.

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