How to Modify Your Child Support & Custody Agreements

Raising a child on your own is difficult enough, but handling child support and custody agreements can be overwhelming and stressful. When changes to child support and custody agreements are necessary, it is not only possible to make revisions but also very common. An attorney can show you how to modify your child support and custody agreements.

The original agreement is rarely kept intact, and changes can be made at any time. If an amendment is needed, an attorney will assist you in the process.

Whenever a child support case is opened (it may be opened at any time), a parent can ask for a change in child support amount or custody agreement. This can be done with the assistance of an attorney who is well-versed in child support laws.

When You Qualify for Modifying a Child Support and Custody Agreement

In order to request modifications to a child support or custody agreement, you must have a qualifying reason to do so. In most cases, this means that a parent or legal guardian is in need of additional financial support due to a job change or loss.

When To Request a Modification

There are many instances in which you should request a modification in child support or custody agreements. But keep in mind that not all life changes will qualify for an amendment. These are a few of the most common reasons to request a modification:

  • Either you or your spouse lost a job
  • You or your spouse started a new or supplemental job
  • Either parent had an increase or decrease in income
  • Additional children were born or adopted into the family
  • You suffered from a sudden disability
  • You were arrested
  • You were deployed

Once it is determined that you need to make changes, you must file a request for modification. Additionally, specific documentation must also be provided by the parent requesting the modification to give proof of a need for changes to the agreement. You will need to provide:

  • Proof of income
  • Child care expenses
  • Medical insurance
  • Disability status
  • Prison status
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Retirement income
  • Current child support and custody agreements

Once all documents have been submitted, the agency will decide if modification is necessary and if you qualify for a modification. If a revision to the plan is needed, they will determine a new child support amount. In most cases, a change to an agreement is given if the support amount increases or decreases by at least 20% or $50.

A modification can begin if the two parties can agree to a new support amount. If so, a stipulated agreement can be signed and filed with the court if both parties live in the same state. Most child support agencies can assist you with this document. After a judge receives the signed stipulated agreement, it will be approved. Keep in mind that the modifications are only valid if they are approved by a judge.

If, however, the parents cannot agree on the new support amount, the two may need to turn to a family attorney for assistance. They may also be required to appear in court, where a judge will make a final decision. In the case of one parent living in another state, the agency may require a review to be conducted by that state’s agency.

When a Modification Is Contested

In the event that the parents cannot agree on an amendment, it is up to the court to determine if a modification to a child support and custody agreement is made, as well as the terms within it. Only one parent must present the proper documentation to the court to begin modification. The court will then set a date, and the other parent will be sent a court summons.

At the court hearing, each side will present their case along with documented evidence. The judge will review all evidence and decide on the new terms of the modified child support or custody agreement.


Q: How Often Can Child Support Be Modified in California?

A: A child support agreement filed in California may be revised once every three years, or if there has been a substantial change in the family’s circumstances since the original agreement was created. The most common reason to request a child support modification is a change in income from one or both parents.

Q: How Do I Write a Letter of Modification for Child Support?

A: It is essential to be as specific as possible when writing a letter requesting modification. State the reason for the request, including the changes occurring that would qualify for an amendment to your current child support order. If, for example, you are experiencing an increase or decrease in income, write the details in your letter.

Q: How Do I File a Motion to Modify Child Support in California?

A: Before filing a motion to amend your child support agreement, first determine if you have a qualifying need to request a change, such as a change in income or a custody arrangement. You will then need to file the motion, including necessary documentation, such as proof of income, child care expenses, or medical insurance. Then, the child support agency will determine whether or not you qualify for an amendment.

Q: What Forms Do I Need to Modify Child Support in California?

A: The first form that must be filed is the Request for Order form, also known as a FL-300. This is the form in which you will state your reasoning for requesting a modification to your child support agreement. You will also need to file an Income and Expense Declaration, a FL-150, where you will state your current income. Or you may need to file a financial statement, an FL-155, which simply states your current finances.

Consult with an Attorney to Assist You in Modifying Child Support and Custody Agreements

It is likely that once a child support and custody agreement has been created, it will, at one point, need to be revised. Life circumstances happen, and sometimes, it becomes necessary to revisit agreements. When a modification needs to be made, contact the Law Offices of Patricia Rigdon.