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Deciding Whether to Pursue Child Support Modifications

When a couple files for divorce and a child is involved, one of the largest decisions is how much one parent will pay in child support to the other parent for the child’s care. After the amount is determined, it is typically considered final except under certain circumstances. Requesting a child support modification can be a lengthy process, so it is important to understand when and how a child support modification can be requested and why the court will or will not grant the modification to a parent in a child support case.


Factors Considered in a Child Support Modification

There are a few reasons why a court will consider a modification in child support payments. The first is a significant decrease in income for one parent, like being laid off of a job. The primary caretaker may need more from the other parent, or the paying parent may be unable to pay support at the current level. Conversely, one parent may come into a large inheritance or see a substantial increase in income from a new job or pay raise. The other parent could seek a modification based on the fact that the parent with the increase can afford to support the child more.

A child support modification can also be sought if one parent increases their familiar responsibilities. If the non-custodial parent remarries, has more children, or takes on more parenting responsibilities for the child at issue for the modification, a request can be made to change the amount paid. Finally, a child support modification may be sought if the responsibilities for the child increase. For example, more support may be needed as the child joins extra-curricular activities or gets a driver’s license and needs a car. The support can be changed so that each parent is still contributing equally as the expenses increase.


Temporary or Permanent Modification

Depending on the particular circumstances of the request, the court may issue a temporary or permanent modification in child support. Temporary modifications are granted by the court when one parent proves the need for a change in child support for a large, one-time expense such as braces or a medical emergency. The temporary change modifies the agreement so that both parents are still equally responsible for a large expenditure.

A permanent modification of child support is granted by the court when one parent proves a substantial change in circumstances of one parent or of the needs of the child that is ongoing. This includes any of the factors listed above, or a change in the child’s life like acceptance into an expensive private school or a life-altering accident that results in permanent disability. An attorney can review your case and advise you whether your circumstances warrant a temporary or permanent modification of child support payments.


Contact a Lawyer Now

If you have questions about whether to pursue a child support modification, an experienced family law attorney can advise you on your situation. Call or contact our firm today to discuss a child support modification case.

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