Filing a Child Support Modification

It is not uncommon for divorced couples to modify their child support as the needs of their family and children change over time. The requirements for child support modification vary between states. However, the requesting party (the parent who is interested in changing child support payments) is typically required to show substantial changes following the support order's issuance.

The substantial changes in circumstances can include everything from a job loss of parents and changes in the children's needs to a significant salary increase of parents. It should be noted that a child support increase doesn't necessarily result in salary increases. It's also important to point out that substantial changes in circumstances aren't temporary changes.

For instance, a salary increase will be temporary and won't cause child support to increase in case parents get a significant overtime bonus. If an employer reduces the parent's pay, his or her child support obligation will probably be decreased by a judge. This is especially true for parents working in struggling industries. Remember that a judge will not modify your deadbeat support obligation if you try to reduce your support obligation by quitting a job or accepting another job for less pay.

How to Make a Child Support Modification Official

As a parent, you will be able to reach your agreement on child support if needed. You would still need to get court approval when modifying your child support, though. To get your child support changed, you will have to request a new support amount from the court. Keep in mind that your initial child support order will remain in place if you don't file a change request. Moreover, the support order can be enforced by the other party in that case.

Making a child support modification is quite easy in most states. You can do it just as you would file out and submit any proper form to the local court. Even so, the change in support must be accepted by a judge. It is supposed to serve the best interests of the child(ren) and occurs as a result of substantial changes in circumstances.

Hearing is usually not required. The court approves changes for substantial changes in circumstances in most cases. Sometimes a support modification is not accepted by both parents. That involves arguing the case in court. After hearing evidence, a judge will make a decision whether or not a child support modification is appropriate. Please note that this means additional lawyer's fees and court costs as well.

The Process of Child Support Review

This in-office process is performed by administrative officials. They are responsible for modifying and establishing the process. Besides, the administrative staff can also enforce child support (via medical and dental responsibilities) and determine paternity in some cases.

During a scheduled meeting, both parties (parents) are going to meet with a child support officer who will assist them in addressing and settling all the problems that arise. A child support review process usually lasts from 60 to 90 minutes. It depends mostly on the parents' cooperativeness.

If the parents make a deal by coming to an agreement during the meeting, a judge will make their documents official without hearing. Otherwise, a court hearing will be scheduled by the court.

How the Process Moves Through the Court System

In the event of a court hearing, your case can move to court for a few different reasons. This may occur if one party endangers the security of the child(ren) involved due to domestic violence. It may also happen if the parents have not come to an agreement. Finally, if the Attorney General's Office believes that it's best to involve a hearing, the case will eventually be taken to court.

If a court hearing needs to take place after the meeting, both parents will be served with the paperwork or noticed by mail in a timely manner. Generally speaking, the paperwork includes information such as the location, date, and time of the court hearing. Sometimes the case goes past the meeting. In this case, the court process is likely to include several court appearances. So be ready to go to the court multiple times.

The Main Reasons for Child Support Modification

Whether you are a non-custodial or custodial parent, you may modify your child support arrangement by sending a formal request to the court. While a change in income is usually the main reason, there are also many other reasons for a child support modification. Let's check them out!

Lower Child Support New Baby

The obligor's expenses and responsibilities will change if he/she has other children and/or remarries. Nonetheless, the obligor can ask the court to reduce his/her child support obligation, thereby providing the same support to every child he/she has. Some custodial parents have more children. In that case, the parent (not the obligor) is in charge of the support to children.

Decrease in Income

After a decrease in income, either the obligor or custodial parent will be able to request a child support modification. The modifications can be caused by:

  • Retirements
  • Unemployment
  • Changes to part-time jobs
  • New jobs in lower-paying industries

It's not uncommon for non-custodial parents to lose the primary income at some point. If that happens, they might not be capable of meeting their child support obligations. The good news is that they can decrease their payment by requesting a child support modification. In the event of primary caretakers who have lost their income, the non-custodial parents might be required to provide them with an increase in their payments in one way or another.

Increase in Income

It may turn out that the obligor (the parent responsible for support payments) is the beneficiary of a constitutional amount coming from a:

  • Inheritance
  • Career or job change
  • Promotion

As a custodial parent, you'll be able to request an increase in responsibilities by petitioning the court. Assuming that the court will agree, the other party will be obligated to pay for additional support on the basis of his/her increase in income.

Incarceration

What about incarcerated parents? Their ability to modify child support varies from state t state. For example, voluntary unemployment referring to people in prison means they cannot get a modification in their state. Those sentenced to prison need to ask for a review and reach out to the local child support offices without hesitation. Bear in mind that your support order won't be decreased right after entering prison.

How Frequently Can I Modify Child Support?

If there are changes in circumstances, one of the parents can try to modify child support. Let's say the non-custodial parent has started to earn more. This is a good reason for the custodial parent to seek an increase in the child's support. If the custodial parent now earns a greater amount of money each month, he/she will be able to pay more for support. Likewise, the non-custodial parent can ask for a child support modification if there is a significant drop in his/her earnings. Regardless of the reason, both parents can occasionally ask for a modification by petitioning the court.

However, you cannot ask for a modification now and again. Some limitations define how frequently the parents can modify child support when going through the Friend of the Court with no lawyer. After establishing the original order, they can seek a support modification at any time. All they need to do is visit the Friend of the Court and file for a modification.

You will have to wait at least 3 years before seeking the next modification. If the other party received the change, then there will be no limitations on how much time should pass between consecutive requests when seeking a child support modification. Please note that it only applies if there is a change in circumstances and for parents using an attorney.

How to Check My Child Support Debt?

What Will Happen If My Back Child Support Isn't Paid?

Ex-spouses are required by state laws to provide their children with appropriate support. The obligors who don't meet their obligations regarding child support face penalties and other serious consequences if the federal government is involved.

There are various penalties for those who do not pay back child support, depending on the state they live in. Here are some of the most common penalties imposed by federal governments or state:

  • Passport Denial – Parents owing a minimum of $2,500 for child support are often unable to apply or use their passports.
  • A suspended driver's license – Your professional license or driver's license can be suspended by the government if you don't provide child support. The same is true for fishing and hunting licenses.
  • Wage Garnishment – The government may garnish the parent's wages if he/she owes back child support. It is an effective way to cause the parents to start paying their support debt.
  • Property Seizure – Sometimes, the obligors can find their property seized. It also gets the parents to pay the debt in most cases.
  • Tax Refund Seizure – If one of the parents owes back child support, the government can seize his or her tax refund.
  • Jail Time – Remember that you might be required to serve time in jail if you avoid paying back child support and making arrangements for quite a while.
  • Cross-Border Law Enforcement – It is not uncommon for parents to flee the state in order to escape the debt burdens. Many people are tempted into thinking that they will not have to pay back child support this way. To ensure that parents regularly pay child support, child support agencies work closely with the governments. There are different kinds of reciprocity arrangements that ensure this.

Who Should Pay Back Child Support?

You will have to pay back child support if you have not made payments for child support as ordered. Your debt repayment may include interest charges and fees besides the back child support. Back child support is mostly handled by states. However, if the obligors are 2 or more years behind in payments, it may raise the need for the involvement of the federal government. Even if the children are over 18, parents owing back child support will still be obligated to pay off debt.

I Owe Back Child Support: What Should I Do?

There are a lot of legal strategies that can make it easier for parents to handle back child support. Nonetheless, they will need to explain their situation to the court in case of problems with their child support obligations. The same goes for changes in financial circumstances.

As a result, child support payments are adjusted by courts in many cases. The court may also let you stop paying back child support over a specific period. Don't ignore the problems. That will give rise to more issues and cause back child support to keep accruing.

Lucky for you, there are different ways to make payments for back child support. You should find an experienced attorney specializing in family law first. The court is more likely to help you come up with a good solution if you are really interested in meeting the obligations.

  • Equitable Forgiveness – Did your child(ren) live with you during the period you were required to pay child support? If so, a portion of your debt might be forgiven by the court.
  • Determining Back Child Support Again – If there is an error in the amount owed, try to correct it and get your payments documented. That will increase your chances of proving that the court requests the wrong amount for back child support.
  • Reasonable Payment Schedule – Just because you cannot waive interest charges doesn't mean you can't request another payment schedule. The court is often willing to create new payment schedules for those showing a desire to meet their obligations concerning back child support.
  • Interest Suspension – It is possible to waive interest requirements provided that back child support is paid off over a given time. However, neither the amount owed will be decreased, nor back child support will be waived by filing for bankruptcy.
  • Debt Consolidation Loan – Interest rates for child support debt can be hefty in some states. This is where a debt consolidation loan comes in. It can help repay child support in case there's no way to get the interest waived.
  • Reaching an Agreement or Settlement with Ex-Partner – Some ex-partners are willing to waive a part of the amount owed, thereby settling the debt. That can considerably reduce back child support debt in some cases. This often includes a lump-sum payment. The negotiations are organized through the court. This means the settlement must be approved by the court to come into effect.

I am Owed Back Child Support: What Should I Do?

Consider contacting the State Attorney's office or a local district lawyer if your ex-partner has not paid child support for a while. Do not handle it on your own. While there are a lot of negotiation strategies to reduce the debt, you are advised to look for the legal channels available.

It should be mentioned that back child support can be received from the state sometimes. If your state repays your child support debt, you will be able to keep providing for your child(ren) with peace of mind. However, it's not achievable in all states. Reach out to laws and policies in your state to check whether or not you can take advantage of this solution.

How to Stop Child Support Payments and Get Out of It?

There are parents who don't want to receive child support payments anymore for some reason even though they have initially requested it. We will mention the most common reasons below. Let's see how to refuse incoming payments and completely stop child support.

How Should I Stop Payments?

First things first, make sure your reason for ceasing child support payments is lawful. Then you should go to a family court and initiate the process. Ask the county clerk to give you the proper paperwork. Fill out and file the papers required to stop child support payments.

Maybe a representative appointed by the court or judge will try to dissuade you from stopping child support payments. That's because the court believes that it is in children's best interest to continue receiving financial support. So you may need to explain your reasons and circumstances that caused you to initiate the process.

Technically, it isn't the only option to put an end to payments. If your ex-partner is going through financial hardship, you can return child support payments to him/her at any time. However, parents who receive benefits or grants from the government cannot stop child support payments voluntarily.

Are you a non-custodial parent? Even if you aren't responsible for child support payments anymore, you still need to keep relevant receipts. Be sure to maintain documents and records for each payment made towards the upbringing of your child. That will prevent you from owing back payments in the future. Whatever the case, it is best to speak with qualified lawyers who specialize in child support payments.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for Getting Out of Child Support?

Parents often change their mind about custody and want to get out of child support for different reasons, including:

  • Changes in the recipient's financial situation: If the custodial parent comes into an inheritance or gets a new job, he or she may stop child support payments. That parent is not obligated by law to do this though. Nevertheless, the other party can request a modification of child support. After the court reviews the current financial situation, the custodial parent can opt to stop or reduce child support payments.
  • Getting back together after divorce: It is not uncommon for ex-partners to reconcile. In this case, the custodial parent has no reason to keep receiving child support payments. He or she is supposed to visit the family court again and explain the reason for getting out of child support.
  • Changes in circumstances that affect the non-custodial parent: The financial situation of divorced couples changes from time to time. To reduce the financial burden, they can consider giving up child support. It's not so common, but this happens sometimes. This involves filing for a child support modification. The court will review the current financial data and issue a change where applicable.

How to Write a Child Support Modification Letter

You need to write a child support modification letter but have no idea how to do it. Would you like to see how child support modification looks like? This sample allows you to view an agreement between ex-partners. As you can see, they agreed to an adjustment concerning child support payments. You can also check child-rearing expenses and other details.

Non-Custodial Parents

Parents paying child support, i.e. non-custodial parents, whose income has significantly decreased need to request a modification of child support at their earliest convenience. After comparing the current and past income (when the child support process was initialized), the court will approve or deny the request depending on whether the difference is substantial or not.

Custodial Parents

Custodial parents need to request a modification of child support only if they think that the income of their ex-partner has increased significantly. They can also request a child support modification if the financial needs of their child(ren) have increased notably, whatever the reason. You should avoid requesting a modification for a reason the court is likely to regard as insignificant. This is especially true for jurisdictions that limit the evaluation frequency. Otherwise, you will probably end up wasting time and money down the road.

How to Request a Child Support Modification

Are you interested in modifying child support and filing your request? Visit the Child Support Enforcement Office and initialize the process. Make sure the office is located in the state where your order was issued initially. Also, reach out to the agency before filing a formal motion and request a child support modification. Good luck!