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. This determination was reached after the court analyzed the data and information provided to them by your ex and you.
The state bases child support on your income, education, job, standard of living and a variety of other factors.
It uses similar factors for your spouse, now be the primary caregiver for your kids. Additional factors also play a role, such as the number of children, their ages, career status, and all 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.
Related Reading: Common Child Support Questions Answered
Is support modification difficult?
The short answer is yes. Once in place, it’s usually difficult to modify child support?
That said, there are various reasons the court may grant one. It’s often a long, expensive process. And even if you do show justification, you may 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 don’t have the income you had previously.
- You get 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 Pay Her Share
A Justifiable Reason
The key to obtaining a child support modification is to present a justifiable reason and to be thorough. It’s important to understand that your ex not holding up their responsibilities or agreements is NOT a valid reason for child support modification.
Child support is for the benefit of your children and your ex does have some latitude in determining how it is allocated.
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: Child Support and Predictive Analysis
Being Thorough and Honest
As for being thorough, work with your attorney to put together an 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.
Think of it this way; your ex will be required to 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? Expect that sentiment to go both ways.
Be honest with your attorney and when filling out the appropriate documents. This is where having an attorney is essential. They help make sure you don’t miss anything in the details and you don’t do anything to jeopardize your case.
It’s important to know that modifying child support isn’t easy. You must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.
Even if you accomplish this, the courts are often reluctant to alter support orders already in place. This may frustrate you, but it’s 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.
Don’t agree to a number just to be done with the process. Sit down, maybe with a lawyer or financial professional, and examine the numbers. It’s better to deal with it up front than down the road.
Just remember, this is for the good of your children. It’s not their fault your marriage didn’t work out. Always strive to do right by them.
Related Reading: What is a Status Quo Order?
Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.