How to Modify a Child Support Order

When parents separate or divorce, the courts must address the issues of child custody and child support. As the children grow older and parent circumstances change, the need to update an order regarding visitation or child support often arises.

Whether you feel you are paying too much or receiving too little child support, it may be worth discussing your circumstances with an attorney in order to evaluate your options for modifying your existing order.

Justifications for Modifying Child Support Orders

Courts make an initial child support order based on the parents’ circumstances at the time of the order. Depending on the state, they may consider the income of each parent or just one parent and the needs of each child including medical care, childcare and educational costs. All states have a certain formula for calculating child support and all states have methods to modify or update child support orders.

So, what might justify a modification to an existing child support order? Circumstances will vary for, of course, but examples could include:

  • A modification of a child custody or visitation order
  • A substantial change in financial circumstances experienced by the parent paying child support
  • A material change in income experienced by the parent receiving the child support payments
  • A decreased or increased financial need for one or more of the children such as medical or educational expenses

You might consider a modification if you believe you are paying more than you can afford or are not receiving enough in child support to cover your children’s needs.

If you are making child support payments, it’s possible to have a reduction in your financial responsibility approved by the courts – even if your own income status remains unchanged. If your ex receives a substantial raise at work, for example, a judge may approve a request to modify the amount of your monthly payments based on the state guidelines.

Documenting a Change in Financial Status

Your request for a child support modification needs to be significant and well supported by documentation for a judge to approve it. A temporary pay reduction, depending on the length of time, may not qualify.

Documentation proving your change in financial status will not guarantee a judge approves your request. But doing so can increase your chances.

Consider the following as potential evidence supporting your child support modification request:

  • Tuition, education-related invoices or proof of expenses
  • W-2 or pay stubs showing wage changes
  • Termination letter or other documentation of loss of employment
  • Bills for medical expenses

Documenting such changes in financial status can help bolster the case for whichever parent is requesting to modify their child support order, whether it is the parent who receives child support or the parent who pays child support.

The Child’s Best Interests

You should know that your financial status is only part of the equation. The courts make the call to either approve or deny a requested modification based on the child’s best interests.

Whatever your circumstances, an experienced family law attorney should be able to guide you should you have questions possible modifications to your initial child support order.

Speak to an Experienced Child Support Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified child support lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local child support attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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