Can Child Support Payments Be Modified in California?

Pleasanton CA divorce attorneyDivorce often puts financial strain on one or both parties involved, especially when child support is part of the financial agreement. On top of this, life circumstances may eventually change, leaving some parents in a difficult financial situation wondering how they will hold up their end of the agreement to make sure their child is taken care of.

What, if anything can be done if the parent currently paying child support falls behind or finds it difficult to pay? Will the child still be able to be taken care of financially? In cases like this, there are specific parameters in the state of California that allow for child support modification requests to be submitted by the parent experiencing financial difficulties. 

Modification requests should be filed as soon as financial circumstances change so that the parent requesting the changes doesn’t get caught in a situation where they can’t pay and then may be subject to interest on unpaid payments. So, what are some of the circumstances in which child support payment amounts may be able to be modified? 

Job Loss

If a parent suddenly loses their job, this is considered a viable circumstance for potentially being granted a child support payment modification. The parent must be able to prove that they are no longer employed in order to be considered. This instance also doesn’t cover a parent who voluntarily leaves their job. 


If a parent is imprisoned and no longer able to report to work, they may be able to request a child support modification by filing a petition. This circumstance isn’t a guarantee that the parent will no longer owe child support, and interest may accrue on missed payments. 

Time Spent With Children

The amount of time a parent spends with their child factors into how much child support must be paid. The less time a parent spends with a child, the more they will likely have to pay. If circumstances change and one parent is suddenly spending more time with the child, this is grounds for a potential decrease in the amount. On the other hand, if one parent begins spending less time with the child, their support amount owed each month may increase. 

Updates to Income

Sudden decreases or increases to a parent’s income can also determine the monthly amount that must be paid. These circumstances may be due to a salary increase from a job promotion or job change, or sudden loss of income due to various circumstances. As with any of the aforementioned life changes, a modification would need to be filed for income changes to be factored in. 

There are calculators that exist to help provide an estimate of monthly child support owed in the state of California, but they may or may not be accurate. Only a judge can make the determination on monthly child support owed for the child in question. 

If you are seeking additional information regarding child support modification, contact The White Oak Law for a consultation. Reach us at 925-271-0999 to learn more about what we do.