Sometimes previously agreed or court ordered child support arrangements prove unfeasible. Life events such as the loss of a job, serious injury or change in marital status or household income sometimes call for changing the child support arrangement currently in place by getting a child support modification. To lower child support payments, or to get more child support, parents must agree to the change or have a judge order the change. The following child support modification tips will help you navigate the process and get some peace of mind.
Act quickly. If you are unable to pay the current child support amount, you will still owe the unpaid amount in arrears, which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and generally cannot be reduced retroactively. As soon as your circumstances change, or you learn that they will, start taking steps to secure a child support modification.
Inform yourself. Look into the child support laws in your state and learn what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a child support modification. Consult a child support attorney in your area for guidance.
Try to reach an agreement with the other parent. See if the other parent will agree to modified child support payments. Of course, in many cases, agreement proves difficult. However, given the emotional and financial expense of litigating child support arrangements, starting the discussion with an eye on agreement is wise. Formal methods, such as mediation, are available to help parents reach agreement.
Keep making your child support payments as best you can. To the maximum extent possible, keep making the child support payments required under the current child support order. The existing child support order remains in effect unless and until the court issues a new child support order. Pay as much as you can and pay it in the manner specified by the child support order. Not putting forth your best effort to pay will hurt your argument that new circumstances (rather than lack of effort) require a new child support amount, and will cause unpaid child support to pile up.
Document your change in circumstances. Whether it's a job change, a change in household income, medical disability or other life change, you will need to demonstrate a significant change in your circumstances. Remember that this change must have occurred after your existing child support order was entered by the court. If you can't pay all of your child support because you lost your job or earn less money, make a serious effort to find new employment and document your attempts. Take care to be completely accurate in stating and detailing all of your household's income.
File your request for child support modification with the appropriate court. You should file it with the court which issued the child support order currently in place. Whether both parents agree to a modification, or one parent wants the court to order a child support modification, you will need a new child support order issued by the appropriate court for changed child support requirements to take effect. The papers you file with the court also need to be served on the other parent.
Get Child Support Modification Tips Specific to Your Needs by Talking to a Lawyer
If you're seeking to lower your child support payments because of job loss or other unexpected expenses, you'll need to follow the laws and procedures in your state. A great way to start the process is to speak with a child support lawyer in your area today who can answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process of child support modification.