Ask for or change child support
If parents aren’t living together, the court can order one parent to pay the other parent child support. To ask the court for child support or to change a child support order, you have to file a request.
Use different instructions if the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) is part of your case. If you have an LCSA child support case (a government child support case), there are different instructions for how to ask to change the order.
How you get help or change your child support order is different if the local child support agency (LCSA) is involved in your case.
The LCSA will be part of your case if one of the parents
- Is getting money from the government for your children, or
- Asks for their help
One way to tell if the LCSA is involved in your case is if the County is listed as one of the parties. For example County of San Diego v. John Doe
If you aren’t sure if the LCSA is involved, call the Child Support Customer Connect line to find out: 866-901-3212.
Before you start
Gather information about your finances
When you ask for child support, you will need to tell a judge about your financial situation. You will need proof of your income for the last two months.
Find out how support is calculated
Learn about child support
Use a free online child support calculator
Go to the Family Law Facilitator in your county
A Family Law Facilitator can explain child support and help you calculate the amount the court would likely order.
Fill out Request for Order form
Request for Order (form FL-300)
Use this form to tell the court:
What you want it to order
Why it should order what you're asking for
For child support, use item 3 on page 3, and “Facts to Support” (item 10 on page 4).
Item 10, “Facts to Support,” on Page 4 asks you to explain why the court should order what you requested. Write down the facts, not just opinions, that support what you’re telling the court.
For example, tell the court if things have changed since the last order for support, like you lost your job, are making less money, or are spending more time with the children.
If there is a document that supports what you say (like a letter from your job), attach that to your request. Black out any private information like a Social Security number or account numbers.
If you need more space, check the box that says, “Attachment 10.” You can use Attached Declaration (form MC-031).The Petitioner is the person who started the family law case initially. The Respondent is the other parent. For example, if you are filing this Request for Order but the other parent was the one who started the case at the very beginning, you are the Respondent.
Fill out the Income and Expense Declaration
- Income and Expense Declaration (form FL-150)
This form asks how much money you earn and how you spend your money.
Attach proof of your income (like paystubs) from the past two months to the form.
Do not attach a copy of your last year’s taxes. Bring a copy (if you have one) to the hearing.
Attach documents to support your case
Sometimes it's important to have documents that support your case. If you have any, you can attach copies or file these with your request so the judge can consider them at the hearing.
- Documents can include things like a receipt, a bill, or a letter from your employer
- Black out any private information like a Social Security number or account numbers
- If there is a witness (someone who saw or personally knows something), you can ask them to write and sign a statement that says what they know. Learn more about witness statements.
If you don't have these ready now, you can file them later.
Make copies of your forms
After you’ve filled out, signed, and dated both forms, make 2 copies of the forms.
File your forms
To file your forms with the court:
Give the original and the 2 copies to the court clerk
Pay a $60 fee (unless you’ve gotten a fee waiver)
There may be other fees. For example, if you’re also asking to change child custody or visitation.If these are the first papers you’ve filed in the case, there will be a $435-$450 “first paper” filing fee. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.
The clerk will:
Stamp the forms
Write a hearing date on the Request for Order form
Keep the original form and return the copies to you
A judge will make a decision about your request at the hearing.
Yes, you can file by mail. Mail your original and 2 copies to the clerk. You need to include the filing fee and a self-addressed stamped envelope so the clerk can mail your copies back to you. If you do not include a self-addressed, stamped envelope you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your copies.
Some courts allow online filing (called e-file). You can find out if your court has online filing by visiting your court’s website.
Once you’ve filed the forms, the next step is to serve your spouse. Before or after you serve the papers you can start to prepare for your hearing.