Changing or modifying child support is no easy task. To do so, you’ll need the court to order the change, but you can’t get the court to rule unless you have solid legal grounds.
When Can You Modify Child Support?
If there has been a substantial change in circumstances, for either you or your child, then the court may agree to hear the case. In these instances, substantial change can refer to any of the following occasions:
- Your child requires special classes
- If your child’s health has deteriorated, requiring special care
- Or, your child requires major surgery
- Your income has decreased substantially as a result of a layoff
- Perhaps your spouse’s income has dramatically increased
- Your spouse remarried
- And more…
The list can be long and varied, but essentially something significant has to have changed in either the amount of resources available to care for the child or the amount of resources required to care for the child.
Is Child Support Modification Permanent?
Yes, and no. Modifications to child support payments can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on how child support should be handled, you will likely need to file a motion and appear before a judge to reach a final resolution. (It’s important to note that even if you both reach a private agreement on how to handle child support, you must file the agreement with the court to ensure enforceability and accuracy).
Should You Retain Legal Counsel to Assist with Modifying Child Support?
Probably. Even if you and your spouse come to an agreement on how the child support order should be modified, you should consult an attorney to ensure a few things:
- You have valid grounds
- The agreement is fair
- The agreement will likely meet the court’s end goals regarding care and best interest of the child
- The paperwork is well-drafted and complete
Because the laws can vary by state, it never hurts to have another set of eyes look things over. The emphasis of the court will always be placed on the well-being of the child, and an adequate level of support from each parent. To determine what that level is, the court may have a formula based on individual state rules and regulations, with inputs based on each parent’s income levels, assets, the time each child spends with each parent, any special needs, and the general cost to raise the child.
A good lawyer will ensure your proposal has a higher chance of approval than if you simply wanted to go it alone.
In Need of a Family Law Consultation?
For a complimentary, confidential consultation about modifying child support, call the Reeder Law Firm at (770) 475-2521.