Parents who feel like their child support order is no longer fair, may consider filing for modification. The process of requesting such a change can be so complex, that many parents give up entirely and just accept their current arrangement. But, doing nothing can be a huge mistake, as one parent or the other may eventually find themselves in financial turmoil. If something has changed to where you are unable to make payments, it is worth looking deeper into what your options are for modification.
A family lawyer can help you decide what is in the best interest of both your child and your finances. We believe that while it is important to support your child, it shouldn’t come at the cost of sacrificing your financial stability. Here are some things to consider before taking action, so you understand what it means to file for child support modification:
Child Support Isn’t Automatic
While the factors related to child support may have changed, this doesn’t mean that the amounts are automatically adjusted to fit the situation. For example, if your child became of legal age, child support payments may not automatically end on his or her birthday. It is important to be aware of laws for your state and file any necessary paperwork to make changes. The same rules can apply for parents who receive a huge pay decrease or the other partner gets a significant promotion — it can be grounds for modification but adjustments may not be made unless either parent files for an update.
Create an Organized Financial File
Before filing for modification, you may want to ask an attorney for insight as to what financial documents are most useful in such a negotiation. It is vital that if you do not already have an organized file of your finances, that you make one before investing time and energy into modification. The judge is likely to ask you about what has changed in regards to your finances, and request documentation which reflects these claims. You may only be able to file for child support modification a certain number of times within a designated period, so it is important to be as prepared as possible.
Modification May Not Be Retroactive
If you were let go from your job or suffered an unexpected medical injury or illness but didn’t request modification until a couple months later, the judge may only consider changing the terms based on the date you filed. Parents who anticipate a job loss or sustaining some other financial hardship, may want to have the modification paperwork already prepared just in case.
Laws do vary by state and some may permit child support orders to be retroactively altered in situations where the parent paying less child support due to spending more time with the child, ends up being with him or her less than expected.
If you are getting ready for child support modification, please contact a law office to book your consultation with an attorney.