Child Support Law

Child Support Modification

With rising costs of living, you may be wondering if you need to modify your child support. If you are receiving support to care for your child, you may need more money to provide the same quality of life. If you are paying support, it may be tough to keep up with those payments, and you want to know if you can decrease it.

This article will explore when and how to modify your child support court order. Child support laws are different in every state. It is always best to speak to an experienced family law attorney in your local area for legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand the amount of child support being paid and the guidelines your state uses to make child support changes.

What Steps Do You Take To Modify a Child Support Order?

To change a child support order, there generally has to be a significant change in your situation that may warrant a change to the court order. A significant change or substantial change will usually be defined in your state’s laws regarding modifying child support. These changes could be:

  • Additional children have been born
  • The needs of the child have changed (like the child has been recently diagnosed with a major medical need that now requires extensive care)
  • Your current income has changed (decreased or increased)
  • Your co-parent’s income has changed (increased or decreased)
  • A change in legal child custody
  • A change in physical custody, parenting time, or visitation

Many states now have child support guidelines that factor in overnight stays for the “noncustodial” parent. A noncustodial parent could be the parent who is obligated to pay support because they have less physical time with the child or are the higher earner.

The Modification Process

The child support order modification process is not always as easy as it should be. The court will consider several factors when determining if a modification is even justified. How do you go about requesting a modification and what information will you need?

To request a change, you need to gather supporting documents and financial information. This can include:

  • Current income information, such as the last three pay stubs, current tax returns for the most recent tax year, and bank statements
  • Health insurance (dental and vision) costs for the child only
  • Child care costs or after-school care costs
  • Current child support amount being paid
  • Past-due child support, if any
  • Child custody orders, if recently changed
  • Your court case number or child support enforcement agency number

Once you have all of this information, you can speak to an experienced family law attorney to help assess if you qualify to seek a child support modification. You may be able to also talk with the child support enforcement agency about them re-calculating child support to see if a modification is available.

Many states will have a child support calculator online that you can use to get an idea of what the new amount could be in your child support case. But these calculators are not always completely accurate, and they may not take into account certain factors unique to your situation.

No matter what avenue you choose, if you and your co-parent disagree that a modification needs to happen or even on the amount which should now be paid, you will need to file a motion with the family court and seek a court hearing to have the child support order modified.

Can I Contest a Child Support Modification Request?

The short answer is yes. Whether you are the parent receiving child support or the parent paying child support, you can contest the modification. You can respond to the motion if the other parent has filed to request a modification and you disagree with either the current support amount needing to change or the amount requested.

You will still need all the information listed above. It is very normal for the parent who filed requesting the modification to not have the other parent’s financial information. So you will need to provide this information for accurate numbers to be determined. Once both parents provide all necessary and relevant information, a decision can be made on whether child support orders should be modified, and if so, what the new amount should be.

No matter what, you need to let the legal process play out. Do not modify the amount of child support you are paying just because you think that is what is fair. You could face additional legal troubles if you do this. Talk to an experienced child support attorney to discuss your options.

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