How to Respond to a Request to Modify Your Support

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Either former spouse or partner can ask the court to change the support amount to be paid each month if his or her circumstances change. For example, the support may be changed if a person loses his or her job, or if the medical needs of the person have changed.

NOTE: You may not need all of these forms. Or you may need more forms. If you're not sure which forms to use, talk to your Family Law Facilitator Opens
new window or a lawyer. 

For help in getting low-cost legal aid, click here. Opens new window

For help finding local court forms you may need, go to your county's court website: click here. Opens new

To read and information sheet called "How to Oppose a Request fo Change Child, Spousal, or Family Support "(FL-393), click here. Opens new window

If you were served with an Order to Show Cause which asks for a modification of the spousal or partner support:

First, read carefully all of the papers to see what exactly your former spouse or partner is asking for.  Note that the Request for Order states a hearing date, time, and location for you to appear in court.  Then, take the following steps:

Step 1. Fill out two forms:

  • Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order (Form FL-320) Opens new window
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) Opens new window
    See the instructions Opens new window for this form.

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office can answer questions about these forms and help you to to fill them out. To find the Family Law Facilitator’s Office in the county where you live, click here. Opens new window

Step 2. Before you file the forms with the Court Clerk:

  • Attach a copy of your pay stubs (or other proof of income -- workers compensation, unemployment, or disability payments, for example) for the last two months to your financial statement (form FL-150).
  • Make 3 copies of your completed forms and their attachments.

Step 3. File the forms at the courthouse:

  • When you are ready, take your original forms and your copies to the court clerk’s office for filing.

Step 4. Serve the forms:

California law requires that your former spouse or partner be given formal notice that a "Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order" (form FL-320)  has been filed with the court. The financial form should also be served. This is called Service of Process Opens new window and is very important.

NOTE: As with all Service of Process  you cannot serve your own papers.

Another adult (18 years or older) who is not involved in the case could be asked to serve the papers.)

You can use either one of two types of service:
The person who actually served the papers is to fill out:
  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) Opens new window if he or she put the forms in the mailbox, or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) Opens new window if he or she actually handed the forms to the other parent.
There are time limits for service of process:
  • Generally, the forms are to be served on the other spouse or partner no later than 9 court working days before the hearing.
  • However, if you are receiving public assistance you must disclose that fact in the Income and Expense Declaration and notify the DCSS at least 21 days before the hearing.

Step 5. File the Proof of Service form:

After your former spouse or partner has been notified of the Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order, the original, completed and signed copy of the “Proof of Service” form and at least one copy is to be taken to the court clerk to be filed.

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is your proof that the service requirements have been met.

Step 6. Finish the process:

To finish the process, the two former spouses or partners are to attend the hearing that was scheduled with the application to modify the support amount was filed.

  • The date, time and location of the hearing were written on line one (1) of the filed form.
  • Bring to the hearing copies of your last year’s tax return with all attachments, IRS W-2 forms, IRS 1099 forms, and your most recent pay stubs (or other proof of income -- workers compensation, unemployment, or disability payments, for example.).
  • If you are self employed, bring a profit and loss statement that shows all your income received and due to be received from the date covered by your last tax return to the present.

At the court hearing, the judge will look at the new circumstances and make a decision one way or the other about whether or not to modify the support amount.

If the judge decides to modify the support amount,
he or she will ask the person who started this motion (or his or her lawyer) to prepare an “Order After Hearing.”
The “Order After Hearing” has to be:

  • Approved (as to content only) by you;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on you. 

REMEMBER: The Office of the Family Law Facilitator can help you with any part of this process if you are not represented by an attorney.

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