When Life Changes: Navigating Child Support Modification Proceedings

Whether you’re about to have a baby, move into a new home, or graduate from college, life’s biggest changes can cause major stress. If you’re in the midst of these transitions, it may be helpful to keep them in perspective and not let them overwhelm you. This can help you prioritize what needs to be done right away and what might be put off or not acted on until you have the chance to address them later.

When Life Changes: Navigating Child Support Modification Proceedings

All states have child support agencies that review existing child support orders to see if they need adjustment based on the parents’ current financial circumstances and other factors. These agencies can also facilitate discussions between parents about how to adjust their child support payments without needing a court hearing.

The agency reviews a case by requesting detailed information from both parents, including pay stubs and tax returns. They can also request copies of other records, such as utility bills and bank statements, to prove the parent’s income. The agency then reviews those documents and makes a recommendation to the judge.

A judge will consider the amount of each parent’s income and other factors when deciding on whether to modify child support. The judge will then use the state’s child support guidelines to calculate the amount of modification.

When Life Changes: Navigating a Child Support Modification Proposal

In most cases, a custodial parent who wants to request a modification should file a motion in the same court where the initial order was issued. The filing should include a statement explaining why you believe there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original support order was made.

The motion should also state why you think the changes you want to make are a good fit for your situation and will benefit your child. This is important because you need to have a strong case in order to convince the judge that your change will be in the best interests of your child and will help him or her meet their current needs.

You might be able to ask the court for an adjustment even if you don’t qualify under your state’s changed-circumstances requirements (more on that below). Some exceptions to this rule exist, and it’s important to know what’s allowed in your particular jurisdiction.

What Is a Substantial Change in Circumstance That Justifies a Child Support Modification?

Many parents request a modification because they have lost a job, been laid off, or experienced other significant changes in their work status that can’t be reversed. While these are often valid reasons for a modification, the court or agency must find that they aren’t “voluntary” reductions in income.

If a child support agency or the other parent files a motion to modify your support, you need to provide all the financial and other information requested by the agency or other party. This can be difficult for a low-income family, and it’s a good idea to consult with a divorce lawyer before you begin the process.