Child Support: When and How to Seek Changes in Court Orders
After a divorce or separation, coming to an agreement regarding child support is an important way to ensure the wellbeing and financial stability of children.
However, it’s a simple fact of life that some things change over time. Life circumstances certainly fall into that category. At some point, it might become necessary to seek modifications to existing child support court orders.
This process might seem overwhelming, and having gone through the divorce process and drawn up a child support agreement once already, you’re probably not eager to go through it again. But don’t worry– it doesn’t have to be difficult, as long as you go into it with a plan and some knowledge about how it all works.
What are significant life changes?
Changes in life circumstances might require that changes be made to existing child support agreements. Some of these changes might include a significant change in income, a loss of employment, a new job, or changes in living arrangements.
Additionally, if the child’s needs change, or they require more support for medical or educational expenses, it might also require a change in the existing child support agreement.
Open communication between parents
Open, honest communication with your co-parent is the most important thing to focus on when considering changes to child support.
If possible, discuss the changes with them and the possibility that they may affect your ability to meet existing support obligations.
Ideally, you’ll be able to amicably reach a decision outside of court– this will save time and money, and reduce conflict and animosity. If you can reach an agreement outside of court, try to document this agreement in writing and, if possible, get it approved by the court.
However, things aren’t always that simple, and sometimes getting the court further involved is the best idea for all involved parties.
Understand state laws
Every state and jurisdiction has different laws regarding child support, and child support modification processes. Familiarizing yourself with your local laws is a great idea– research the relevant laws, or consult with a family law attorney to understand the requirements, limitations, and procedures involved in seeking modifications to child support orders.
In order to make a change to a court-ordered child support agreement, it’s essential to provide evidence that justifies the modification. This evidence might include pay stubs, tax returns, financial statements, medical bills, or proof of changes in living arrangements.
These documents will go a long way toward substantiating your claims, and can help to provide the court with a clear picture of the changes warranting modification of existing agreements.
Work with an attorney
Finding an attorney who’s experienced with family law will be incredibly helpful as you work toward modifying child support arrangements. Attorneys have been through these processes many times before and can help to protect you and your child’s wellbeing in the court.