Child Support Modification: The Basics

Child support is a necessary responsibility for non-custodial parents, but sometimes life circumstances can make continued payments difficult. If you're facing such a situation, then the answers to the three questions below will prove to be invaluable.

What Is Child Support Modification?

Child support is a court-ordered payment that is usually paid on a monthly basis. The initial support amount is determined by a number of factors, including income of the non-custodial parent, how much time the non-custodial parent spends with the child, and other such circumstances.

Circumstances, however, can change in an instant, which is why child support orders are able to be modified to fit different situations. A modification requires a court hearing, where a judge will determine whether the present circumstances warrant a modification in the amount to be paid monthly, and the judge will also determine what the new amount is.

What Circumstances Can Lead to Modification?

Job loss is the most obvious reason for a modification to occur, but there are other situations that can arise that may require the order to be modified.

Long-term disability, incarceration, changes in shared parenting time, and similar circumstances can lead to a modification of the original child support order. But, keep in mind that many of these circumstances must be long term and/or not easily changed. For example, if the non-custodial parent loses a job but can easily obtain another one with a similar income, modification is not likely to be granted.

Are There Things You Can Do to Increase the Odds of Receiving Modification?

While the reasons for the support modification will be the biggest factor in whether or not you receive a modification, there are a few things you can do to strengthen your case.

For example, if you're struggling to find new work at a similar income level after a layoff, document every minute of your job search and bring those documents along to court with you. Record all instances of interviews, and perhaps enroll in job search programs in your city to show that while you're trying your hardest, there simply aren't jobs available. The more documentation you bring along to support your claims, whether they be regarding unemployment, disability, or increased parenting time, the better your odds are of receiving the modification you seek.

If you're dealing with life circumstances that require you to seek a child support modification, consult with a family law attorney or child custody lawyer today.