Modifying Child Support - Nuts and Bolts / by Cassandra Hearn

During any case involving a child custody dispute, a judge will need to enter an order providing for the support of the child. In California, both parents have an obligation to provide financial support for their children. In most cases, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay child support to the parent who has the majority of the parenting time. Just as children grow and change, however, financial issues will change and shift in a parent’s life. Parents will change jobs, remarry, and sometimes have more children. In many cases, these changes will cause a parent to want to modify child support.

In order to modify a child support order, either parent may file a motion to request a modification with the court. Parents seeking a support modification should not wait, but rather should file as soon as reasonably possible, as a modification can only be made retroactive to the date of the filing of the request. California code section 3653 does provide some very particular exceptions, including allowing a court to order reimbursement for overpayment dating to the service of the motion or backdating a reduction to the date of employment termination, whichever is later.

Once the parties are in court, the parent who is seeking a modification has the burden to produce evidence to support the request. The requesting party must prove that there has been a change in circumstances has occurred since the entry of the last child support order. The exception to this requirement is if the parties previously entered into an agreement that set the child support lower than what the California guidelines would have provided it should be. If that is the case, the party requesting an increase in support does not have to prove a change in circumstances.

When proving a change in circumstances, there are a variety of situations that can qualify. These situations include a change in parenting time, a change in either parent’s income, a parent having another child from a different relationship, or a change has occurred in the child’s needs or expenses. Parents should note, however, that a change in a parent’s income will likely not qualify if the change was intentional or if the change is temporary.

We have extensive experience in helping our clients with issues involving child support. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation about your support order and whether it is time for a change.