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Child Support Modification Appeal


To understand how the San Diego or greater California child support modification appeal arises a little background is helpful. California has a strong public policy in favor of adequate child support.  That policy is expressed in statutes embodying the statewide uniform child support guideline. The California guideline seeks to place the interests of children as the state's top priority. In setting guideline support, courts are required to adhere to the principles set forth in Family Code section 4053, which include: (1) “A parent's first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent's circumstances and station in life”; (2) “[b]oth parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children”; (3) “[e]ach parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability”; (4) “[c]hild support orders in cases in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising the children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children's living standards in the two homes”; and (5) “[c]hildren should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children.” (§ 4053, subds.(a), (b), (d), (f)(g).)

To implement these policies, San Diego and California courts are required to calculate child support in accordance with the mathematical formula in section 4055. Adherence to the guideline is mandatory and the guideline amount of child support is presumptively correct. The trial court



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may not depart from the guideline except in the special circumstances, which include the obligor parent's “extraordinarily high income” and cases where the “parties have stipulated to a different amount of child support under subdivision (a) of section 4065.” (§ 4057, subd. (b)(2), (3).)


Under the express terms of Family Code section 3651, all support orders, are modifiable prospectively, except spousal support orders that the parties have agreed may not be modified.  The family law court's jurisdiction to issue child support orders in a California marital action continues even after the final judgment and independent of any reservation of jurisdiction in the judgment. In effect, for child support purposes, a dissolution (or legal separation or nullity) action remains pending throughout the child's minority. Thus, a California court may modify child support ordered by the judgment or first make a child support order after entry of a dissolution judgment. Even agreements, to the extent that they purport to restrict the court's jurisdiction over child support, are void as against public policy. Children have the right to have the court hear and determine all matters that concern their welfare and they cannot be deprived of this right by any agreement of their parents.


The child support modification appeal starts when either party is unhappy with the court’s modification order.  The first step is to determine whether an appeal is worthwhile (appealability arguably is also a first step, but more on that later.)  Trial courts fashion orders all the time that to you, I, or even the Court of Appeal consider mistaken.  However, these mistaken decisions do not produce a wave of child support modification appeal reversals.  I review whether the mistake in your case warrants a reversal in light of the view of discretion standard.  That standard is often applied on review of a modification order.  As a San Diego based appellate attorney I can evaluate errors to attack in your child support modification appeal that are not only mistakes, but also reversible as an abuse of the court’s discretion.  Another step I alluded to earlier is to determine if you can appeal at all.  The Court of Appeal reviews some error only by writ or the adverse decision you wish to appeal in not yet ripe.


The above is a short description of the child support modification appeal process.  I handle child support modification appeals from San Diego as well as the greater California area trial courts.  I urge you to contact me so that I can evaluate your child support modification appeal and determine its merits

Viewing the presentations, articles, other content, or contacting me/you through my web site does not establish an attorney client relationship. I will not file a notice of appeal nor calculate the time in which a notice of appeal must be filed by until I have received a signed retainer agreement.  Warning, the time from which to file a notice of appeal is statutory. The time in which you have to appeal may pass between when you first contact me and when an attorney client relationship is formed upon when I receive a signed retainer agreement .  Until a retainer agreement is signed and received by me, it is YOUR responsibility to insure your appeal is filed within the statutory period.  The articles on this website are not legal advice and should not be used in lieu of an attorney.  The accuracy of articles and information on this site cannot be relied upon.

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