Child support can be one of the major issues to resolve in a divorce or paternity case, and the difficulties may not end even after a family court has made a determination about the amount that a parent has to pay. That’s because if the financial circumstances of the parent who is making the payments changes – such as the loss of a job – that parent can petition the court for child support modification to lower the monthly payment. On the other hand, the parent who is receiving child support can also petition for a modification if their circumstances change, such as a child suffering an accident that requires home nursing care and significantly increases the expenses to care for that child.
Situations That Warrant a Modification of Child Support
Child support is a court order, which means that if you want to make any changes to the agreement, you must file a petition for modification of child support. This is true even if you and your former spouse have agreed on a change to the child support order.
Judges will always weigh any child support modification based on what is in the best interests of a child, so they will only consider changing a child support order if they determine that a significant change in a parent’s circumstances warrants that action.
Some of the more common situations that may warrant child support modification, include:
- A Significant Change In the Income of Either Party – For example, if the parent paying child support loses a job or files for bankruptcy, this would be considered significant and would affect that parent’s ability to maintain the existing payment. The same is true if the parent receiving child support loses a job, because that represents a significant loss of income for the caring of the child. Furthermore, a judge can order a reduction of child support if the receiving parent has a significant increase income due to a job promotion, a new job, or earnings from a business investment.
- Permanent Disability – If either parent becomes permanently disabled, this would be considered a substantial change in circumstances. If the parent paying the support becomes disabled, a judge could order a decrease in payments based on a recalculation of that parent’s income. Conversely, if the parent receiving the support becomes disabled, a judge could order an increase in child support payments based on that parent’s loss of income.
- Significant Change In a Child’s Need – If a child becomes disabled, or requires long-term hospitalization or home health care, that would be considered a substantial change in that child’s circumstances, and could warrant higher child support payments. Another scenario that could qualify is if a child no longer needs daycare, which could decrease the amount of child support that a parent has to pay.
Taking Action Is Within Your Rights
If you are a parent who is currently receiving child support and believe that your former spouse has experienced a significant increase in their income, you should consider hiring a family law attorney to help you file a petition for child support modification. An experienced family lawyer can also help parents who are paying child support who are seeking to decrease the amount of their current payments, due to a change in their financial circumstances.
Please contact The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. at 561-655-8844 for a one-on-one legal consultation with Attorney Cheshire. Our law firm can help you understand your child support modification options, and craft the best strategy to help achieve your goal.