According to state courts, child support in California is a long term order that lasts until a child turns 18; however, you can change it for sufficient reason. Depending on your circumstances and those of the other parent, you may have your child support modified to pay more, pay less or break even.
Parents may have many reasons to seek a change to a child support order. They sometimes discover that the order is unreasonable in comparison to similar situations, but more often, parents petition for a modification after one or both of them has a significant change in circumstances.
When to seek a change
If you or the other parent has a change in employment or income, you may have sufficient reason to seek a hearing. Keep in mind that the change must be reasonably significant to warrant alteration. Other parents take action in response to a change in the parenting arrangement — for instance, a child begins spending more time with one parent.
There are a few other reasons a child support order may change. California uses a guideline calculation system to determine the amount of child support a parent receives. If you have reason to believe that the amount you are receiving or paying differs from the calculable number, you can petition the court for a hearing. Courts typically will not change an order due to remarriage or for new children, but if these new circumstances create a significant financial status change or an inability to pay, a court may reevaluate the standing order.
How to seek a change
Unless you transferred the order to another court, you will need to petition the court that originally filed the child support order. Alternatively, you can make an agreement with your ex outside of court, but you will still need to bring it before a judge to make it enforceable.
It is a good idea to take action immediately if you believe you have reason to. California courts will typically only backdate a new support order to the date your motion to modify support is filed.