Your divorce is finalized and the child support order has been determined. Your ex has primary custody of the kids and you know what you must pay each month. The court reached this determination based on the information you and your ex provided. It’s all there in black and white.
The state bases child support on your income, education, job, the standard of living, and a variety of other factors.
It uses similar factors for your spouse, now the primary caregiver for your kids. (For the sake of this article, we assume you don’t have primary custody.) Additional factors also play a role. These include the number of children, their ages, career status, and other relevant current circumstances.
So this is it, right? This is what you’re working with until your kids are grown? Not necessarily. In certain cases, child support modification is possible.
Is Child Support Modification Difficult?
The short answer is yes. Once in place, it can be difficult to modify child support.
That said, the court will at least consider one for various reasons.
It’s often a long, expensive process. Most courts remain reluctant to alter an existing order. So even if you do show justification, you still face a steep uphill battle.
However, you’re not completely without hope.
Let’s look at a few scenarios that might necessitate a change to your child support situation:
- You are laid off and no longer have your previous income.
- You got a raise or a new job with a huge salary bump. Shouldn’t your child’s standard of living increase along with yours?
- Your ex-spouse gets a significant bump in income.
- You gain primary custody of your kids.
- You are injured and can’t work.
- Your child becomes injured or ill and requires more care.
- Your former spouse decides to relocate.
- Death of a parent or child.
Related Reading: Child Support: My Ex Won’t Comply With Court Order
Do you qualify for a support modification?
The key to obtaining a child support modification is to present a justifiable reason. Be thorough. You have to prove a significant change in financial circumstances.
It’s also important to understand that your ex not holding up their responsibilities or agreements is not a valid reason to pursue child support modification.
Child support benefits your children and the custodial parent does have some latitude in determining how to allocate the payments.
Within reason, of course.
If your ex interferes with your parenting time, or does something else out of line, like spend the money on tattoos or drugs, you absolutely have legal recourse. You should work with your attorney to determine the best course of action.
Related Reading: Keys to Finding the Best Child Custody Lawyer
Document Your Circumstances
Back to being thorough.
Work with your attorney to put together updated documentation of your circumstances. You need to be completely honest in detailing all of your income and expenses.
Any dishonesty will likely come to light and reflect poorly on your case.
Think of it this way: your ex must submit similar paperwork. If you caught a whiff of any possible dishonesty on their part to try and gain a more favorable outcome, you wouldn’t give up until the truth was uncovered, right?
Be honest with your attorney and when filling out the appropriate documents. They help make sure you don’t miss anything in the details. But they can only act on the information you provide. So don’t do anything to jeopardize your case.
As said, even if you prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt, that often isn’t enough.
In general, courts hesitate to alter support orders already in place. Yes, this is frustrating, but it’s also the reality of the situation. The best strategy to ensure you wind up with a child support amount that works for you is to get it right the first time.
Related Reading: Criminal Charges and Child Custody
What About Inflation?
We hear a lot these days about inflation. The news loves to talk about rising prices of gas and other necessities.
Because of this, many people wonder whether or not they can modify child support payments based on this price gouging.
The short answer is: No.
As detailed, in order to modify child support payments, you must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. Increased general life expenses can figure into this, of course, but probably won’t tip the scale one way or another. After all, prices have gone up for everyone.
Related Reading: What is a Status Quo Order?