After a judge in California makes a child support order, parents are legally obligated to adhere to it devoutly. But, when there is a change in circumstances, one or both parents (sometimes even the Local Child Support Agency, also known as an “LSCA”) may petition to have it modified. Here’s a look at how things may transpire.
Changing child support order in California: The process
The first step in modifying child support involves one of the parties (or the LCSA) filing a request for an order modification with the court. The form that is used is called “Request for Order” and can be found on the California Courts website. Once filed, copies will need to be served to the other party involved in the child support arrangement as well as any relevant agencies.
From here, two things can happen:
1. Both parties agree to change the terms of support and then file a stipulation with the court. Meaning they have come to an agreement outside of court on the amounts of child support that should be paid and under what conditions. If the judge approves this stipulation, it will become a new court order.
2. One party requests a hearing in front of a judge to decide on the modification. If this is the case, both parties will be given notice of the date and time of the hearing at least 20 days in advance so that they have time to prepare their arguments.
Grounds that California family courts can modify child support
Child support modifications can occur for the following reasons:
• Change in income in one or both parents
• Change in the custody arrangement
• Change in needs of the child
• Change in cost of living
• Expiration of previous order
When modifying child support, a judge must notarize it. Verbal communications or any agreements made without a judge’s signature will be invalid.