If you receive or pay child support, you know that several factors affect how much that order is. Your income, the living arrangements and how many children the payer has are all details that will determine what is appropriate in terms of the amount a person pays.However, these and other factors change over time. And when they do, it could be time to modify your child support order.


Changing a child support order can be appropriate in light of certain events, including:

  • Involuntary job loss
  • Promotion or other means of increased income
  • Changes in the medical needs of a child or parent
  • The paying parent has more children to support
  • Shifts in the balance of custody
  • Parental incarceration
  • Parental military deployment
  • A child’s financial needs increase or decrease dramatically

Under these circumstances, the courts may approve a modification. However, keep in mind that these changes should reflect a significant difference in the financial resources or needs of the parties. In general, California guidelines support modification when circumstances would change the original order calculation by 20 percent or $50.


If you or your child’s other parent wish to modify your child support agreement, the efforts can be unsuccessful if either party makes certain mistakes.

For instance, informally modifying an order yourself can be a costly mistake. When you change the terms of a court order without permission, the courts cannot enforce the new arrangement. Further, a parent could face legal and financial penalties for non-compliance with the original order.

Additionally, parents who lose sight of the purpose of child support when seeking modification can wind up making mistakes based on inaccurate assumptions. Remember, even if your circumstances have changed, child support is for the benefit of the child. If changing the amount of support is not in your child’s best interests, the courts may not require it.

Modifying your child support order from time to time can ensure it is fair and reflects current circumstances, so it is crucial to consider this option over time.