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How to Ask to Modify a Spousal or Partner Support Order

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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 or a lawyer. 

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

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


To read an information sheet called "Simplified Way to Change Child, Spousal, or Family Support" (FL-391), click here.


To ask the court to change the amount of spousal or partner support, take the following steps.


Step 1. Fill out (update) three forms:

  • Request for Order (Form FL-300)
    See the instructions for this form.
  • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
    See the instructions for this form.

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office can answer questions about these forms and help you fill them out.

  • For information about the Family Law Facilitator’s Office in the county where you live, click here.


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

  • Attach a copy of the existing support order that you are seeking to change to your Request for Order.
  • 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 with 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. You may need to pay another filing fee.
  • When you file your papers, the clerk will give you a hearing date so that you can make your request before the judge.


Step 4. Serve the forms:

California law requires that your former spouse or partner be given formal notice that you are asking for your support to be modified. To do this, have copies of all of these papers – including information about the hearing date -- served Opens new window on the other spouse or partner (and on the Department of Child Support Services if it is handling the case). this is called Service of Process Opens new window and is very important.

Also have the other spouse or partner served with a blank copy of the forms that they can complete:

  • Responsive Declaration (Form FL-320) and
  • Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157
  • Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
Keep a copy of all of these papers for your file.
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) if he or she put the forms in the mailbox, or
  • Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) 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 at the courthouse.

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is your proof that the service requirements have been met.
  • The other spouse or partner has until 9 court working days before the hearing to file a Responsive Declaration (form FL-320) and Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150) with the court.
  • He or she should serve a copy of these responsive papers on you.
 

Step 6. Finish the process:

To finish the process, the two spouses or partners are to attend the hearing that was scheduled when 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 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 the other spouse or partner;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on the other spouse or partner.
  • The Proof of Service has to be filed at the courthouse.

To learn how to prepare an “Order After Hearing,” click here.

REMEMBER: The Office of the Family Law Facilitator can help you with any part of this process if you don’t have an attorney to represent you.

 


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