Modify and Adjust Child Support Orders

Make changes in Child Support to keep up with big changes in your circumstances.

It's not uncommon for circumstances to change that may require the child support order to be adjusted. First things first, if you feel like your child support needs to be adjusted, try talking with the parent of the child and coming to a new arrangement that way.

Proving a Change in Circumstances

For whatever reason, regardless of whether you and your spouse agree, you will need to go to court in order to modify your child support agreement. Before doing that, remember that unless you can make a strong case for a major change in circumstances, it's not worth asking the course to modify it.

Here are just a few of the more common examples that would get the court's attention in order to make them consider modifying the order.

  • Medical Emergencies
  • Loss of Income
  • Increase in Income
  • Change in the Law
  • Changes in the child's circumstances (such as an unexpected illness)
  • One child becoming emancipated or turning 18.

Generally, for a change in circumstance to be considered in court, it needs something that is out of your control. For instance, if you are paying child support because you were the higher earning spouse at the time of the divorce, but are suddenly laid off from your job, this would be considered a significant and unforeseen change that the court may look on favorably.

However, let us consider another scenario. Say you suddenly quit your job, or worse yet, get yourself fired deliberately (maybe in an effort to change your circumstances) it is unlikely the court would see this as an unforeseeable change in circumstances.

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What WILL NOT Work in Court

Not everything will sway a judge to change an existing support order. As is the case in all things related to children in the courtroom, the court always has the child's best interest in mind when making a decision. Though divorce can be an intense and demanding time emotionally, it's best to make sure the reasons for modifying court-ordered support keep your child's well-being in mind. If the following examples sound familiar to your circumstances, you might want to think twice before committing the time and resources to modifying your child support.

  • Being denied visitation rights. While the court will enforce the visitation rights agreed upon in the original custody hearing, they are unlikely to make changes to your support order as a result.
  • The custodial parent legally moving the child without violating the custody agreements (parental responsibility and parental time), would have no impact on the court's decision to modify a support order.

It is worth repeating that any legitimate changes in circumstances won't change the need to pay support automatically. This includes when your child turns 18 unless that specific date has been laid out in your child support agreement. If you feel that there has been a life change that necessitates modifying support, act sooner rather than later.

References: Modify Your Child Support Agreement

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