How to Prepare for a Child Support Modification Case

How to Prepare for a Child Support Modification Case

Child support is a common issue in any divorce or separation. Support is calculated based on a number of factors, such as the relative incomes of both parents and the amount of time the child or children spend in each parent’s care, what we refer to as a timeshare or custodial timeshare . 

Child support is always modifiable if the incomes of the parties change, or if the timeshare changes. The amount of child support payable by one party to the other may increase or decrease with these changes. Regardless of whether you pay or receive child support, either party can request a modification to update the amount of child support paid. 

The modification process can be difficult and time consuming for busy parents, so we’ve put together this guide to answer the question, “What do I need to know in a child support modification case?”

Beginning the Process

You can request a review of your current child support arrangement and begin the modification process in multiple ways depending on your circumstances. 

If Both Parties Agree to a Modification

If you and the other parent agree to modify support, because one of the parties is unemployed or has experienced a significant change in income for whatever reason, the parties can agree to modify child support in writing.  Both parents should sign the agreement, and make a copy for themselves. It’s always a good idea to have a lawyer review your agreement to make sure it is fair and you are not missing any important details.  This writing should be memorialized in a court order, but often, a written agreement between the parties may be enough if both parties have generally been cooperative with each other in the past. 

It is important to note that absent a written memorialization of the agreement, the payor spouse remains responsible for paying the original, ordered child support amount and bears the burden to show proof of payment of that amount indefinitely. It is therefore extremely important that any change to support be in writing!

Both parents should be transparent about their incomes so that both parties are aware of the financial circumstances of the parties.  You can calculate what the court’s “guideline” payment recommendation would be by visiting The parties can agree to use this amount as the new child support amount, or agree to a different amount.  

If you currently have a case open with the Department of Child Support Services, or DCSS, you would contact your caseworker or fill out an online request to modify support. If you have an agreement, you would inform DCSS of the agreement and ask that any wage garnishment currently in effect be modified based on the agreement of the parties. 

If Both Parties Do Not Agree

If you and the other parent don’t agree that a modification is needed, or on the specific conditions of a modification plan, then you should contact DCSS and fill out an online request to modify support. 

If you do not have a case with DCSS, you would submit an FL-300 form, also known as a Request for Order form and check the box to modify child support. 

Whether you go through DCSS or not, both parties will be required to fill out and provide completed Income and Expense Declarations. 

Income and Expense Declaration

When you file for a child support modification, you have to give the court the new details of your financial or parenting situation. In California you do this by submitting an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) form. 

This form gives the court a detailed picture of what has changed to justify the request to modify child support. The form asks for information about: 

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Investments
  • Raises and Bonuses
  • Time Spent with Children
  • Daycare Costs
  • Health Insurance Costs

In order to prepare for your child support modification case, you should try to start compiling this kind of information, and documentation like pay stubs to submit with the form. You will be required to provide your last three paycheck stubs, or if you are self employed, proof of income from self employment, and often the court will request the most recent tax returns filed by each party. 

Court Hearing

After receiving the requisite forms, the court will schedule a hearing on your request for modification and determine whether or not to modify the child support amount. The process is the same whether you go through DCSS or the regular court. The court will want to know what has changed since the last court order, and why you are requesting the modification now. 

If the court orders a modification, and you are not represented by an attorney, the court will issue a new order for support. If you have a case with DCSS, DCSS will prepare the order and re-issue any wage garnishment. 

Working With Hart Ginney

In order to make sure you have handled the process correctly and that your hearing goes well, you should consider enlisting the services of a family lawyer with experience working in child support cases. 

Hart Ginney has years of experience working on child support and family law cases in the Bay Area. We will work to make sure you have the advantage before you even start working with formulas or calculations. To start discussing the details of your case, contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

1939 Harrison Street, Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94612

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