The same considerations originally made regarding which court has jurisdiction to make the orders will also need to be addressed when seeking modifications. Assuming jurisdictional hurdles are overcome, a request for order must be prepared. The form used is FL-300 with accompanied supporting declarations.
Family Code section 3664(a) authorizes a procedure whereby a party receiving child support or the party paying it may serve a request for production of completed current income and expense declaration. Once this information is obtained and it is determined that the answers would justify filing the motion to modify, facts supporting a significant change in circumstances should be outlined in item 10 of FL-300 form. Marriage of McLoren 202 CA3d 108, 111 explains that the change required for modification is a significant change of circumstances.
An income and expense declaration must be filed using Judicial Council Form FL-150. Before the case can be heard in court, service of the petition must be made on the opposing party.
Despite our best efforts to plan ahead and maintain control over our lives, sometimes life throws us a curveball. If there is a temporary reduction in salary or unemployment, you can seek a modification in the child support order.
The decision in the case Marriage of Laube (1988) 204 CA3d 1222, 1226 gave future trial courts advise on how to manage temporary changes in circumstances that may affect child and spousal support.
The court suggested that when there is a temporary economic setback that is not likely to permanently reduce the supporting spouse’s ability to pay, the trial judge can order that support payments be decreased by an appropriate amount. The reduced amount would be set only for as long as the economic setback lasts.
the court could even make the order for the reduced amount and specify that the original amount will be reinstated upon his or her reemployment. The advantage of this procedure that it will eliminate the need for subsequent hearings.
It is possible to reach an agreement for modifying a child support order without having to physically go before a judge. It is, however, advisable to document the modification in a written stipulation and submit the agreement for the judge to sign it.
The parents cannot reach an agreement that would restrict the court’s authority to modify child support (such an agreement would not be enforceable. See Marriage of Cheriton (2001) 92 CA4th 269, 294),
Keep in mind that if the county is providing public assistance to one of the parents, the county must be included in any reduction, suspension or termination of child support. A written stipulation can also be reached with the county which would then be filed to make the new support order enforceable.
The two most important factors in determining the amount of child support is the amount of custody awarded and income. Any change in either factor may warrant a motion to modify the support. If income increased for the paying parent, the payee parent would want to file the motion to modify and increase the child support. Likewise, a reduction in income for the obligor parent would normally justify a reduction in child support for the obligor parent.
Family Code section 3651 states that if a party to a support order is activated to the United States military duty or National Guard service and deployed out of state, the service member may file a notice of activation of military service instead of the typical motion to modify the support order. The stated policy is for the court to attempt to schedule the hearing prior to the date of deployment.
To determine how a change in income may affect the support amount, it is advisable to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who will be able to give a specific number based on all the required factors. This way, it will not be a mystery what the support order is likely to be when the court makes its ruling.
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