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Retroactive Modification of a Child Support Order

In California, and most other states, no court is authorized to modify a support order for any time perior prior to the filing date of such a request. For instance, if the child support obligor has lost his job, suffered an injury, or is unable to work for any reason, the support order may not be modified for any time period prior to the filing of a request to modify the order. See Family Code Section 3651 (a) and (c)(1). There are no exceptions to this rule, even where the parties have agreed. See Family Code Section 3651 (e); In re Marriage of Sabine M. and Toshio M. (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 1203, 63 Cal.Rptr.3d 757, 07 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 9045, 2007 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11,687 California Family Code Section 3651 California Famly Code Section 3651. (a) Except as provided in subdivisions (c) and (d) and subject to Article 3 (commencing with Section 3680) and Sections 3552, 3587, and 4004, a support order may be modified or terminated at any time as the court determines to be necessary. (b) Upon the filing of a supplemental complaint pursuant to Section 2330.1, a child support order in the original proceeding may be modified in conformity with the statewide uniform guideline for child support to provide for the support of all of the children of the same parents who were named in the initial and supplemental pleadings, to consolidate arrearages and wage assignments for children of the parties, and to consolidate orders for support. (c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) and subdivision (b), a support order may not be modified or terminated as to an amount that accrued before the date of the filing of the notice of motion or order to show cause to modify or terminate. (2) If a party to a support order is activated to United States military duty or National Guard service and deployed out of state, the service member may file and serve a notice of activation of military service and request to modify a support order, in lieu of a notice of motion or order to show cause, by informing the court and the other party of the request to modify the support order based on the change in circumstance. The service member shall indicate the date of deployment, and if possible, the court shall schedule the hearing prior to that date. If the court cannot hear the matter prior to the date of deployment out of state, and the service member complies with the conditions set forth in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Section 522 of the Appendix of Title 50 of the United States Code, the court shall grant a stay of proceedings consistent with the timelines for stays set forth in that section. If, after granting the mandatory stay required by Section 522 of the Appendix of Title 50 of the United States Code, the court fails to grant the discretionary stay described under the law, it shall comply with the federal mandate to appoint counsel to represent the interests of the deployed service member. The court may not proceed with the matter if it does not appoint counsel, unless the service member is represented by other counsel. If the court stays the proceeding until after the return of the service member, the service member shall request the court to set the matter for hearing within 90 days of return from deployment or the matter shall be taken off calendar and the existing order may not be made retroactive pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 3653. (3) A service member who does not file a notice of activation of military service and request to modify a support order or order to show cause or notice of motion prior to deployment out of state nonetheless shall not be subject to penalties otherwise authorized by Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 4720) of Part 5 on the amount of child support that would not have accrued if the order had been modified pursuant to paragraph (2), absent a finding by the court of good cause. Any such finding shall be stated on the record. (4) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no interest shall accrue on that amount of a child support obligation that would not have become due and owing if the activated service member modified his or her support order upon activation to reflect the change in income due to the activation. Upon a finding by the court that good cause did not exist for the service member’s failure to seek, or delay in seeking, the modification, interest shall accrue as otherwise allowed by law. (d) An order for spousal support may not be modified or terminated to the extent that a written agreement, or, if there is no written agreement, an oral agreement entered into in open court between the parties, specifically provides that the spousal support is not subject to modification or termination. (e) This section applies whether or not the support order is based upon an agreement between the parties. (f) This section is effective only with respect to a property settlement agreement entered into on or after January 1, 1970, and does not affect an agreement entered into before January 1, 1970, as to which Chapter 1308 of the Statutes of 1967 shall apply. (g) (1) The Judicial Council, no later than 90 days after the effective date of the act adding this section, shall develop any forms and procedures necessary to implement paragraph (2) of subdivision (c). The Judicial Council shall ensure that all forms adopted pursuant to this section are in plain language. (2) The form developed by the Judicial Council, in addition to other items the Judicial Council determines to be necessary or appropriate, shall include the following: (A) The date of deployment and all information relevant to the determination of the amount of child support, including whether the service member’s employer will supplement the service member’s income during the deployment. (B) A notice informing the opposing party that, absent a finding of good cause, the order will be made retroactive to the date of service of the form or the date of deployment, whichever is later. (C) Notice that the requesting party must notify the court and the other party upon return from military duty and seek to bring any unresolved request for modification to hearing within 90 days of return, or else lose the right to modify the order pursuant to this section. (Amended by Stats. 2005, Ch. 154, Sec. 2. Effective August 30, 2005.)

Serving Orange County, San Diego County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and Ventura County. We enforce California child support orders and spousal support orders anywhere in California, and in many cases, nationwide, under the the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

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