We all know that life can change on a dime. While it is good to make plans, you have to be flexible and adjust when things change. But what happens when the court-ordered child support payments are no longer meeting your child’s needs? What if you can no longer afford to make the monthly payments? In either case, you have to ask the judge to modify the child support order.
To support a motion to modify the amount of child support payments, you must show a “substantial change in circumstances.” The parent requesting the adjustment in the amount being paid has the burden of showing there is a change in his or her life circumstances that warrant the adjustment. Some of the most common examples of substantial changes in circumstances that result in child custody payments being modified are:
- The non-custodial parent that is paying child support has a substantial change in his or her income. In other words, if the parent paying child support experiences a 10% increase or decrease in income, the court will likely modify the amount of the payments.
- The court may increase child support payments (even temporarily) if the custodial parent, through no fault of his or her own, loses a job.
- If the child’s needs dramatically change, the court will adjust the child support amount. This includes costs such as medical expenses, an increase in educational requirements, or other cost-of-living increases.
It is important to note that the substantial change in circumstances cannot be the result of intentional actions by either parent. In other words, you cannot quit your job in order to modify a support order and obtain higher support payments.
Even if your ex-spouse agrees to the modification, you must obtain court approval. Failure to do so could result in you being held in contempt of court for not complying with the only official record of the amount due and owing. A verbal or written agreement between you and your ex-spouse to modify child support will likely be sufficient as long as you are on good terms, but if your relationship deteriorates, your ex-spouse can get you into trouble by invoking the original support order.