Changing a California Child Support Order

As circumstances can change after a divorce, California parents can request to change child support. Here’s how to modify a child support order in California.

In California, modifying a child support order includes filling out, reviewing, filing, and serving necessary forms, scheduling and appearing for a court hearing, and preparing a court order.

1. Fill Out Necessary Forms

In California, the first step to modifying a child support order is completing the forms below:

A Request for Order requests a court hearing to modify a child support order; however, it does not legally require the other parent to attend the hearing. While an Income and Expense Declaration thoroughly breaks down a parent’s income, taxes, and expenses, a Financial Statement simply presents a parent’s tax-deducted income and child’s expenses. Speak with an attorney or family law facilitator to determine whether you should use Form FL-155 or FL-150.

2. Have a Lawyer Review These Forms

As this is the first step of your child support modification case, its important to make sure all forms are properly completed. A lawyer can review these papers and give you crucial legal advice. If you’re tight on money, you can ask a lawyer for limited scope representation, in which they only handle specific aspects of your case while you handle the other parts.

3. Make 2 or More Copies of Each Form

You’ll be handing the original forms to the court, so it’s important to make two or more copies of each form you’ll be turning in; one set of forms is for yourself, while the other set of forms is for your child’s parent.

4. File Forms With Court Clerk

Once you have completed and reviewed these forms, hand them, and the copies, to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp all papers “Filed” and hand you back the copies. Know that depending on your county, you may have to pay a filing fee. If a local child support agency (LCSA) is involved in your case, you do not have to pay a filing fee.

5. Get Court Date from Clerk

The court clerk will write your court date on the Request for Order (Form FL-300). If you’re seeking to modify a child custody order as well, the clerk may also give you your date for mediation.

6. Serve Papers to Other Parent

Once you have filed the original forms, get someone over the age of 18 (not yourself) to serve one set of copied forms by mail to your child’s parent. Include a blank Responsive Declaration to Request for Order (Form FL-320) and blank Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150). If a local child support agency is involved, you must serve these papers to the LCSA.

7. File Proofs of Service

After a server has served these papers to your child’s parent, make sure the server completes and files a Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335). It’s very important that Proofs of Services are completed and filed correctly, so make sure an attorney or family law facilitator reviews these forms before submission.

8. Go to the Court Hearing

Attend the court hearing at the date and address listed on the Request for Order (Form FL-300). Make sure to bring any and all forms completed in the child support modification process so far. Hire an attorney to protect your rights in court.

9. Prepare the Court Order

If the child support modification order has been granted, it is the petitioning parent’s (or their lawyer’s) responsibility to ensure a judge signs the Findings and Order After Hearing (Form FL-340) and the Child Support Information and Order Attachment (Form FL-342). Also, fill out and attach a Notice of Rights and Responsibilities — Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures (Form FL-192). You and the child’s parent will also need to complete a Child Support Case Registry Form (Form FL-191), even if you’ve both done so after the initial child support order.

Child Support Modification FAQs

How long does it take to modify a child support order in California?

How long a child support order takes to modify is dependent upon the situation at hand. If your child support modification request was filed with an LCSA, modification can take up to 180 days.

When should you modify a child support order in California?

Parents seeking to change a child support order should only do so if there has been “a substantial change in circumstances” since the retroactive child support order. Seeking to modify child support without just cause may backfire.

How can you modify child support in California from another state?

Parents can change child support in California from out of state; however, they must appear court if necessary. Failing to appear in court for child support modification can jeopardize the hearing and order.

Contact Us

If you’re seeking to modify a child support order in California, contact us. We’ll get you in touch with the most qualified attorney for your unique legal matter.