Child support is a major part of many parents’ lives. It is important for any parent receiving or paying child support to understand child support modification.
Are you a parent who is no longer able to make your required child support payments due to a change in your income? Or are you a parent who is no longer able to provide your child with everything they need using the child support payments you receive now?
If so, you might be able to arrange for a child support modification. You can make the child support payments that you’re either making or receiving right now more manageable for you.
Before parents begin trying to go about changing child support orders, though, they need to make sure they know what they’re doing. It can be challenging trying to figure out how to modify child support orders if you’ve never had to do it in the past.
Here is how to change child support orders from start to finish so that you get the most favorable outcome possible.
Start by Figuring Out Why Your Current Child Support Order Isn’t Working
A judge isn’t going to agree to change a past child support order simply because you feel like you should be paying less money or receiving more money. They’re going to need to see some hard evidence that gives them a good reason to agree to child support modification.
If you currently pay child support, there are several good reasons for requesting a modification. Some of these reasons include:
- You lost your job and no longer have enough income to make your current child support payments
- You got a new job that pays less than the job you had before
- You have agreed to start keeping your child at your home more often than you were before, thus taking on some of the costs of raising your child directly
If you currently receive child support, there are also several good reasons for requesting a modification. Some of these reasons include:
- You just discovered that the parent who pays child support received a sizable raise at work
- You are facing new costs associated with raising your child that are not covered by your current child support payments
- You have started to keep your child more often than you did before due to a change in your custodial agreement with the child’s other parent
Whatever the case may be, you should think long and hard about why the child support payments you’re sending or receiving right now are no longer working for you. This will give you a stronger leg to stand on if you have to take legal action to modify child support.
Speak With Your Child’s Other Parent About Your Child Support Troubles
If you and your child’s other parent are not on the best of terms, you might not be able to do this. But when you’re thinking about requesting lower or higher child support payments, you may want to run it by them first.
The other parent might agree that an increase or decrease in child support payments is completely warranted based on your current situation. This will make it so much easier for you to seek child support modification and receive it.
Even if you and your child’s other parent aren’t speaking much these days, it never hurts to call them up and talk with them about child support. You might be surprised by how willing they are to adjust child support payments if it’s what’s in the best interest of your child.
Talk to a Lawyer Who Specializes in Child Support Modification
Regardless of where your child’s other parent stands on child support modification, you’re going to need to try to make any changes to a child support order official. If you don’t, there won’t be anything stopping the other parent from reneging on an agreement made with you outside of court.
With this in mind, you should find a lawyer in your area who specializes in helping parents with changing child support orders before you do anything else. They’ll be able to walk you through the process of modifying child support from beginning to end.
It shouldn’t be too hard for you to find a good lawyer who specializes in child support modification. With more than 1.3 million lawyers in the country today, there are sure to be a few good ones in your area who work almost exclusively on child support cases.
But you want to make sure you have the best lawyer possible when conducting a search for one. The lawyer you choose should have the following qualities:
- Be highly experienced when it comes to working on child support-related cases
- Have an office that’s located somewhere in the general vicinity of your home since you’ll be taking quite a few trips to it
- Offer affordable rates to you since money is obviously one of the issues at the root of your current problem
The lawyer that you select should also be able to lay out a clear plan for modifying child support in your specific case. Don’t be afraid to ask them to spell out exactly what they plan to do if you agree to work with them.
File the Necessary Paperwork for Modifying Child Support
Once you hire a lawyer to help you figure out how to modify child support orders, you’ll need to file out a bunch of paperwork to kickstart the process. For starters, you’ll need to file a motion in court (with help from your lawyer, of course!) to change your child support payments.
You’ll also need to prepare to prove why you feel as though changing a child support order is necessary. Your lawyer should be ready to assist you in doing this by helping you build your case.
They’ll begin by having you put together a Sworn Financial Statement. This will give a court all the information they’ll need on your income, your expenses, your assets, your debts, and more. It’ll basically show the court that you do, in fact, need to modify child support to make your financial situation sustainable.
Your lawyer will also have you put together what’s called a Child Support Worksheet. This will break down how the new child support payments that you’re requesting will work if they’re put into place.
If you attempt to modify child support without sending the right documents to a judge, there is a good chance your request is going to be denied. You’re going to need to work hard to prove that modifying child support is necessary in your case.
See If You Need to Make a Court Appearance to Modify Child Support
Once you file all the necessary paperwork to make a child support modification request, you’ll be asked to sit back and wait. Many judges take upwards of seven weeks or so to determine what to do next.
In some instances, a judge might deny your request for child support modification outright based on the documentation you’ve sent over. They might also request additional documentation before rendering a decision.
However, in other instances, a judge might let you know that you and your child’s other parent need to make a court appearance to discuss modifying child support payments further. You’ll be required to attend this court appearance if a judge says that one is necessary.
During your court appearance, you’ll get an opportunity to argue either for or against child support modification, depending on where you stand on it. A judge will sit and listen to you and your child’s other parent to hear what you each have to say about modifying child support payments.
Your lawyer can attend your court hearing with you to guide you through it and to talk to you about what you should and shouldn’t say in court. As long you follow their lead, you should be able to get the result you’re looking for in the courtroom.
Taking the Right Steps Is the Key to Successful Child Support Modification
In theory, it might seem as though it would be simple enough to modify child support payments. You might think that a judge is going to side with you about raising or lowering child support payments after hearing about your situation.
But unfortunately, there are many parents who try to modify child support because of bad blood with their child’s other parent. It’s why it’s not as easy to modify child support as you might think. It can take a ton of convincing on your part.
By taking the right steps during the child support modification process, you can put yourself in the best possible position. You can show a judge you really need to raise or lower child support payments.
Want to discover more about how hiring a lawyer can help you in almost any legal battle? Read the articles on our blog to better understand the value of bringing a lawyer on board for a court case.