Modify child support. Many parents might think that once their divorce is finalized, and a child support agreement has been handed down by a judge, nothing can be or should be changed. One parent is obligated to pay child support according to the original terms and duration, right? Well, not necessarily.
Life is fluid. And while the child support agreement you signed is meant to be a static document, there are situations where enough has changed in your life or the child’s life that you can request to have the original order modified.
Modifying a child support agreement isn’t a slam dunk, however. Unless both parties agree to change the amount of support, the courts need a compelling reason to make a change.
Suits to modify child support
These suits are a request to change the amount, scope, or duration of court-ordered child support. If the parties agree to make a change, the court will generally accept that change. However, if the parties do not agree on a change, the party wanting the change needs to prove there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances of a party affected by the order or the child has been affected. Or, except when the parties had previously agreed to an amount different that guideline support, that it has been three years since the order was rendered or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.
Generally, the court may modify an order if circumstances have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of:
- The date of the original order; or
- The date the parties signed a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based
A few examples of what a court might consider acceptable material and substantial change include:
- A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income
- A change in needs for the child (new medical needs, increase in medical costs, etc.)
- The paying parent is sick or has suffered a disability
- A change in the child’s residence
One of the most common reasons is a change in either parent’s income. For example, if your income in 2019 was $80,000 a year, but you’ve since been demoted and had your earnings cut in half, you may be able to have your child support payments decreased. This is because the payments are based primarily on parental income.
We wrote a previous blog explaining that intentional unemployment and underemployment are frowned upon if the goal is to avoid paying child support. If there are legitimate circumstances that caused the obligated parent to either be intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the payments can be adjusted to take into consideration the parent’s current earnings.
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
When issues arise after the divorce is final, you need a lawyer who is experienced in handling these issues so that you can receive objective advice on whether it is legally possible to have a provision of your divorce changed. Modifications of decrees generally arise in the following areas:
- Modification of a geographic restriction;
- Modification of child support to either increase or decrease it;
- Modification of spousal support to increase, decrease, or terminate it;
- Modification of physical custody of a child; and
- Modification of the possession and access of a non-custodial parent
Our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC is always available. Give us a call today!
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