Modifying Court Ordered Child Support
After child support is granted, this court ordered support may be modified due to a substantial change of circumstances. There are a number of life events may require modifying child support, either up or downward. Not all modifications demand an increase in support payments; some child support modifications occur because a payment reduction is needed.
Some of the most common events that could necessitate child support modification can include:
- The parent’s loss of job or income,
- The parent’s change of marital status,
- The overall change of household income, and/or
- A serious injury or other form of impairment suffered by the parent.
In order to alter the child support agreement, both parents must either agree to the change and a court will modify the order. Otherwise, a judge will order the child support modification after evidence presented at a hearing or trial. The following are important factors to consider when there is a need to modify a court ordered child support.
Respond Rapidly When There is a Need for a Modification
If a parent cannot make child support payments, any past due payments will still be owed regardless of any changes made. Filing for bankruptcy cannot discharge any past due payments. Further, getting a modification will not reduce the payments retroactively. This means that the payments will be changed after the new agreement has been made, but it will not change past dues. For this reason, it is important to respond quickly when there is change in any economic status. If any circumstances change, or if they are about to change, parents should prepare for a child support modification.
If you are making child support payments and suspect that your financial situation will be dramatically changing? Consult with a professional attorney who can advocate for your rights. Child support laws vary by region; therefore, it is important to consult with a professional attorney who knows these laws. There are instances in which a financial change is not sufficient to grant child support modifications. Seek help immediately and take proactive steps, which can prevent you from owing child support payments.
Attempt to Communicate With the Other Parent In Order to Reach an Agreement
Often, open communication can solve many problems for parents. Speaking to the other parent and discussing the reason as to why there is a need for a child support modification can greatly benefit the situation. Open communication, however, is commonly difficult for former spouses. This can ultimately make any agreement difficult to accomplish.
If you find it difficult to communicate with your former spouse in regard to child support, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney who has knowledge in mediation. While it can be simpler and less costly to maintain a direct line of communication, sometimes that just doesn’t work. Mediation is necessary for circumstances like these.
Make An Effort to Stay On Track with Child Support Payments
When a parent is going through financial difficulties, they must keep making child support payments whenever possible. This includes making payments while you wait for a hearing to be approved. Remember: the child support order continues to remain in effect until a judge has ordered otherwise.
Any payments that have not been made, even if the parent cannot make duly payments due to financial constraints, these payments will nonetheless accumulate and will have to be paid eventually. To emphasize: these payments will have to be made even if there was a court ordered child support modification.
In the event that child support payments have not been made due to financial constraints, this can weaken the reasoning behind the need for the child support modification. It is possible that a judge can determine that no effort was made to make these payments, and thereby reject the modification all together.
Document Any Important Changes That Can Demand a Need for a Child Support Modification
Countless circumstances can affect financial conditions. Whether a parent is receiving or making child support payments, it is important to document changes that have happened that can result in the need of a child support modification. Common examples of extreme changes can include a job change and even recent medical disabilities. If there has been a recent change in financial stability, it is important to document the changes as soon as they happen in order to show verification in court. Also, while a change in financial situations is needed to make a request for a child support modification, it’s important to understand that these changes must have occurred after the initial court ordered child support has taken place.
Obtaining Professional Assistance
Whether you are paying child support payments or are the beneficiary of these payments, consult with a legal professional who can explain the specifics of child support modification. This process can be difficult, especially if there is a no line of communication between the parents. If this is your situation, consult with a family law attorney near you who can serve as a mediator on your behalf and obtain the best solution for you.