Modifying Child Support Orders

Overview of Modification Process

A change in a court order is called a modification. Either parent can request that the Child Support Services Department review his or her child support case for modification. Generally, a modification must be based upon a "substantial change of circumstances" since the last order was made by the court.

Examples of a Change in Circumstances

Examples of a change in circumstances include:

  • A change in primary custody (who the child lives with most of the time)
  • A significant change in visitation regarding the supported child
  • A significant change in the income of either parent
  • Incarceration of the noncustodial parent (NCP)
  • Entry into a Rehabilitation Facility noncustodial parent (NCP)
  • The noncustodial parent (NCP) starts receiving General Relief (GR), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veteran's Benefits
  • Military deployment

Local child support agencies must ask the court to modify an existing child support order if the child support Guideline Calculator indicates that monthly child support should be increased or decreased by at least $50 or 20%, whichever is less.

Guideline Calculator

What is Needed for a Modification

In order for the LCSA to review your case for modification, you will need to provide information such as:

  • Income and Expenses
  • Child Care Expenses
  • Medical Insurance
  • Disability (SSI, SDI, SSA, etc)
  • Jail or Prison status
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Retirement Income
  • Custody and visitation arrangements

NOTE: If the LCSA decides the requirements for a review are not met, the parent requesting the review may ask the court to review the order.

If both parents can agree to the support amount ahead of time, the parents can sign a stipulation (agreement) that must be filed with the court. If there is no agreement, a notice to appear in court will be sent and a judge or commissioner will decide the amount.

In cases where medical support was not already ordered by the court, the law requires the LCSA to ask the court for a medical support order whenever health insurance becomes available.

Modification Review Process

When a custodial party (CP) or noncustodial parent (NCP) requests modification, the Department of Child Support Services sends a modification packet to both parents requesting information about each parent’s financial status and various other factors that affect child support. Department of Child Support Services will determine if asking the court for a modification is appropriate based on the financial and other information provided.

If a modification is appropriate, both parties will be informed of the decision. Department of Child Support Services will file the necessary papers with the court to set a court hearing unless the parties can agree to the support amount ahead of time. If an agreement is reached, a stipulation must be filed with the court. When the judicial officer signs the form, it becomes a court order. If an agreement is not reached ahead of time, the case will go to court and the judicial officer will decide the amount of support. At the court hearing, the amount of the child support order may be either increased or decreased, or the judge may deny the motion to modify.

To request a modification review:

  • You may call our Customer Call Center at1 (866) 901-3212.
  • Or you may request a modification review in person at our local office:
409 E. Market Street
Stockton, CA 95202

Until an order for child support is modified, the NCP is required to pay the child support amount in the existing order. Contact our office if there is a change in circumstances.

Parents also have the option of requesting a modification directly from the court. For more information about filing your own request for modification, contact the Family Law Facilitator located at:

180 E Weber Ave,
Stockton, CA 95202

For more information, please see the State's brochure called " Changing Your Child Support Amount", (See PUB 252).