A court-ordered child support settlement is not always set in stone; although the request to modify child support payments is not always granted, family courts are accustomed to modifying child support arrangements, especially as the children grow older in age.
Like visitation, the need for a child support modification may be necessary at some point in the child’s life. The court’s decision will rely on a number of factors.
A child support modification is not something that happens overnight; there exists a process that one must go through in order to have their child support agreement modified.
This process is a legal process, and akin to making the arrangements for the initial child support agreement, any modification request is handled by one’s local family court.
If both parents agree to the modification, then they can write up their own proposal and submit it to the court for approval.
No matter whether they agree or not, they should still bring it to court so that it can be turned into a legal court order.
There are forms to be filed, and the first step is petitioning the court to modify the original child support arrangement. Filing the motion is up to the parent that is seeking to change the current child support agreement.
The Child Support Enforcement oversees the case, along with the family court. Gathering proof to present in court is of top priority.
If the parent has no proof of why the child support order should be modified, it is very unlikely that the judge will allow for a modification.
A modification agreement can take up to nine months to actually kick in.
Parents have one of two purposes when they decide to try to get a child support agreement modified. One purpose is to get more money in the payments and the other reason is to pay less money.
While both of these goals are valid, there may be times when their current circumstances do not warrant a child support modification.
If that is the case, the judge will not grant one. If the purpose of changing the child support amount is to pay less money, an individual should be prepared to show the reason why they can no longer afford to pay the amount of child support that they have been paying.
If a parent’s purpose is to receive a larger amount of child support, then they should be able to prove why they need more money.
Paperwork and Difficulty
Just because modifying child arrangements can be common does not mean that it is easy. As with many legal issues, there are many forms and documentation involved.
The first form that one must file is a Motion for Modification. The parent that wants the modification should be the one to petition the court. Other forms can be found on family court websites.
Some can be downloaded for free. The difficulty in getting a modification lies in the fact that the court is reluctant to do anything that might not be in the best interest of the child.
However, the court also does not want to cause serious financial harm to either parent. While increasing the payment amounts may help the child, the non-custodial parent may be left without a decent income.
The same rule applies to lower child support payments. While the non-custodial parent will be better off, it is likely that both the child and the custodial parent will suffer.
That is why the court is careful when it comes to modifying child support agreements.
Reasons for Changing
Usually, the modification is granted if there is a change in circumstances. If the non-custodial parent is fired from a job, they may be allowed to make lower payments, at least temporarily.
A change in circumstances could work either way. The custodial parent may lose their job and need more money. A sudden disability is considered to be a change in circumstances.
Other issues may arise too. If the non-custodial parent’s child gets married or becomes an emancipated minor, it is likely that the judge modifies the child support agreement so that the non-custodial parent does not have to pay anymore.
There are many reasons why an individual might seek to modify an existing child support agreement. Having a valid, provable reason is imperative.