Child support orders are modifiable: Child support orders are modifiable. The court always wants to retain jurisdiction to modify child support orders to ensure that children are properly supported. There are all kinds of reasons why you may want to modify a child support order. The following are just a few examples:
Example #1: Your divorce judgment states that father will pay mother $1,000 per month in child support. Two years later, Husband switches jobs and is earning substantially more money. Mother may want an increase in the amount of child support since father can afford to pay more. The child should benefit from father’s success.
Example #2: Your divorce judgment states that father will pay mother $1,000 per month in child support. The $1,000 per month figure was based on mother having 80% custody and father having 20% custody. Three years later, the children are now spending 50% of their time in father’s physical custody. Father is going to want a decrease in the amount of child support because, according to the statutory “guideline” child support formula, he would owe a lot less child support when he has custody of the children 50% of the time as opposed to the amount of child support he would owe based on a 20% custodial timeshare.
Example #3: Your divorce judgment states that father will pay mother $1,000 per month in child support. After the divorce, father remarries and has another child. The birth of the new child is a “hardship” deduction allowed under the statutory “guideline” child support formula. If a new child support calculation is made, the child support number will be significantly lower because of the new baby.
Example #4: Your divorce judgment states that father will pay mother $1,000 per month in child support. The family home is sold as part of the divorce settlement. A year after the divorce, father buys a new house, with a big mortgage, and now has mortgage interest write-offs and property tax write-offs. The mortgage interest and property tax write-offs will factor into the statutory “guideline” child support formula. If a new child support calculation is made, the child support number owed by father to mother will be significantly higher. If mother was the party that purchased the new house, the child support she receives should be decreased.
Any time there is a change in any of the data you enter into the “guideline” child support calculation formula, it will change the amount of child support that should be paid. So, if there is a change in either parent’s income, a change in the custodial timeshare percentages, a change in the amount someone pays for health insurance, a change in how much someone contributes to their 401(k); etc., then the “guideline” child support number will change. Whether the amount of the change is worth the time and trouble of filing a modification motion with the court is up to you.
If you don’t understand how the child support “guideline” formulas work with computer software, read the “Getting Educated” section of our website, sub-topic, “Child Support”.
If you and your spouse can agree on a modified child support amount, the new agreement can be set forth in a Judicial Council form known as, “Stipulation To Establish Or Modify Child Support And Order” (FL-350). Use the “Court Forms” button on the navigation bar to go to our Court Forms Database where you will find a copy of the FL-350. The FL-350 can be used to establish a brand new child support order, but it can also be used to modify an existing child support order.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a new child support arrangement, then you have a couple of options. One option is to contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) for the county where the child resides and ask DCSS to initiate proceedings to modify the existing child support order to the proper “guideline” amount. DCSS will do this for free, regardless of the amount of your income or assets. See the information about DCSS that is discussed in the “Getting Educated” section of this website and then see the sub-topic “Child Support”.
The second option is to file a motion with the court to modify the existing child support order using the FL-300. Later, we discuss how to complete and file the FL-300.