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  • Writer's pictureKaleen Harris

Child Support Modification Under California Law

At Harris McKeown Law Firm our attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to help individuals navigate the complicated world of child support in California. Whether you are an individual paying more than your fair share in monthly child support, or a person trying to ensure that one parent meets his or her obligation to provide for your child, Harris Family Law Firm is here to zealously advocate for your rights. In this installment, we will answer some common questions potential clients have regarding child support.

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“How do I modify my child support order?”

The California Family Code states that a child support order “may be modified or terminated at any time as the court deems to be necessary.” California Family Code Section 3651(a). Admittedly, this makes child support modifications sound straightforward. However, multiple family law decisions have clarified the intention of the California legislature. In order to modify child support, a party must introduce admissible evidence of changed circumstances as a predicate for modification of a child support order. See In re Marriage of Sheraton, 92 Cal. App. 4th 269, 298 (2001); see also In re Marriage of Brinkman, 111 Cal. App 4th 1281, 1292 (2003).

“What qualifies as a change of circumstances?”

  • Ordinarily, a factual change of circumstances is required for an order modifying child support. Some of these circumstances include (but are not limited to):

    • Increase in payor parent’s income available for child support;

    • Increase in payee parent’s income available for child support;

    • Decrease in payee parent’s income available for child support;

    • Decrease in payor parent’s income available for child support; and

    • Increase or decrease in either parent’s timeshare with the minor child(ren).

  • There are a number of other circumstances which may warrant a modification of child support. However, the most common situations which warrant a modification of child support deal with either parent’s change of income or change of timeshare with the child. See In re Marriage of Leonard, 119 Cal. App. 4th 546, 556 (2004); citing to Cal. Practice Guide, Family Law.

“My child’s mother/father has to prove to the court that the amount of child support received is insufficient.”

  • Put simply, this is not true. The burden of proof to establish that changed circumstances warrant a downward adjustment in child support rests with the supporting spouse.” See In re Marriage of Stephenson, 39 Cal. App. 4th 71, 77 (1995).

“Can I ask the court to reconsider a child support order if I do not think it is fair?”

  • The stakes are high when a party seeks to modify child support. A trial court’s award concerning child support is reviewed for abuse of discretion. In re Marriage of Cheriton, 92 Cal. App. 4th 269, 282 (2001). Likewise, a determination regarding a request for modification of a child support order will be affirmed unless the trial court abused its discretion, and will be reversed only if prejudicial error is found from examining the record. In re Marriage of Drake, 53 Cal. App. 4th 1139 (1997).

  • This means that child support orders are extremely difficult to modify without showing a change of circumstances. It is always wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your rights and options with regard to child support. Call Harris Pallaschke Law Firm today to schedule your complimentary consultation to discuss your case with one of our family law attorneys.


This article is not legal advice and is not intended to apply to your specific situation. Every family law case has different facts which may affect the ultimate outcome of your case. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Harris Pallaschke Law Firm, APC. and the reader. If you have additional questions, please schedule a free consultation to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys.

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