Modifying a Child Support Order

Under most circumstances, when a judge issues a child support order, that order is in effect until the child reaches the age of 18. There are some exceptions where that order could be extended, such as a child going to college or an adult special needs child. There are also exceptions in place to end the order before the child turns 18, such as if they join the military, adopted by a stepparent, or become emancipated.

Contacting a child support lawyer who are experienced in helping clients with their family court needs is important. There are issues that come up which necessitate the need for modification of the original order.

When Can a Child Support Order Be Modified?

If there has been a significant change of income for either parent, then modification may be possible. If both parents can agree on what that change should be, it will only be necessary to petition the court requesting that change. Anytime parents agree to a change, a legal order should always be issued to make sure it will be binding.

If the parties cannot agree on a child support modification, it then becomes necessary for the court to decide if the change is in order. A child support order will file a petition with the court requesting the modification be made based on the substantial change in circumstances that is outlined in the petition. These changes can include:

·       Cost of living increase

·       An increase in the needs of the children, such as medical or educational needs

·       Job loss

·       Increase in income for either parent

·       Remarriage

·       Changes in the amount of parenting time compared to when the original order was issued

After the petition is filed, the other parent will be notified and will file a response to the petition which will typically outline the reasons why the court should deny the modification request. There will then be a hearing scheduled where both parties will present their case. The court will then make the decision based on the evidence presented.

As the child support modification process is going on, the paying parent should continue to pay the amount of the original order, even if they are the one who is requesting the change. Failure to do so could result in sanctions by the court, including a contempt of court finding. If this is impossible due to job loss or some other reason, then the paying parent should have their lawyer request an emergency temporary hearing. The court may or may not grant this request, depending on how many cases are on the docket. Keep in mind, however, if you are the paying parent, you will still owe whatever the arrears are that build up during this time even if the court decides to grant that modification request.

Whatever your situation, your child support lawyer can advise you on what the course of action is for your particular case.