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Understanding the Process of Modifying Child Support Orders

Your life after a divorce doesn’t remain stagnant, so the court orders you receive at the time of your divorce shouldn’t either. These subsequent changes in your life often affect child support arrangements. Both parents and children may face situations and challenges that necessitate an adjustment in child support. Parents should know when and how these modifications can be made to foster an environment that prioritizes the child’s well-being and is fair.

Initiating the Process

The primary reason for modifying a child support order is a significant change in financial circumstances of one or both parents. One parent must initiate a new legal action and serve the documents to the other parent. This step formally begins the modification process.

You will also file discovery requests to gather updated income information. This includes obtaining recent pay stubs and tax records. Accurate financial data is crucial for reassessing child support. The process requires time and attention to detail. 

Any new information or changes in your financial situation should be promptly updated to keep the case current. In the event that one party owns their own business, receives significant cash income, or attempts to hide income in any other way, your attorney may need to scrutinize bank and credit card statements more closely.  

Be aware that changes in custody arrangements will almost always impact child support. Consider all aspects of your situation when seeking a modification. If you have any questions about whether you should try to modify your support payments, speak with your lawyer to ensure you know what the ramifications may be. 

Does This Go Through a Court?

A common question is whether modifying a child support order requires going to court. This depends on several factors that will be unique to your situation. Generally, child support calculations are based on established state guidelines that consider parents’ incomes, health insurance for the child, and work-related childcare. If there is a dispute, particularly regarding the accuracy of income, a judge might need to conduct a trial and make findings of fact and determine what the new child support should be.

When both parties agree on new terms, they can always reach a resolution outside of court. Any agreement regarding child support is always subject to review and final approval by a judge.

Prepare for this process by gathering complete and accurate financial documentation. Court proceedings can take time and may be challenging, so it’s essential to understand what to expect and to have support throughout the process.

Because the court always prioritizes the child’s best interests, remember that their decisions are based on current circumstances. Any future changes to your life (e.g., a new job, relocation, remarriage) may require another modification. 

To be prepared, keep detailed records of any financial changes and childcare expenses. When the time comes to adjust your support payments, you will have the documentation to give to your attorney. If you’re experiencing significant life changes like job loss or health issues, inform your attorney immediately.

Regardless of what you are going through, you are still obligated to follow the child support order. Don’t wait until you are behind in your payments to contact legal counsel. Be prepared for potential negotiations, and be open to compromise.

Empowered Family Law

Facing changes that impact your child support order can be a significant stressor in your life. Empowered Family Law is here to assist you through this process. Schedule a consultation with us so we can ensure the best outcomes for you and your child.

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Empowered Family Law, PC

With Empowered Family Law, you get an advocate who sees difficulties as opportunities for growth and emphasizes healing and problem-solving no matter how challenging your case.

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