Is It Possible To Change A Court Ordered Child Support Obligation?

Many parents become non-custodial parents that must pay child support. Any number of circumstances can lead you to that point. But what happens when circumstances change further? Do you still have to pay the same amount in child support?

Your Support Order is Not Set in Stone

Some people believe the final judgment on how much child support they must pay is just that, final. The truth is the courts do recognize that circumstances can change. While the process can vary from place to place, you definitely have options for changing your support obligations.

Why would you need to change your support obligations?

  • You and the other parent make an arrangement
  • You are making or will be making less money
  • You are making or will be making more money
  • You are no longer making any money
  • The other parent no longer wants you to pay
  • You have a temporary situation change or emergency
  • The custodial parent starts earning more money

In any of these situations, you will need a court order. That's because your child support is court ordered, so only a judge's decision can change that. The process usually involves you filing some paperwork and then appearing at court. The custodial parent usually has to appear at court as well to either support or contend the proposed change.

When Is a Child Support Modification Possible?

In most cases, a child support modification isn't possible unless there's a change of situation. Even if you're struggling, but you still make the same amount as when your obligation started, it's usually not possible to request a change on your own. Modifications typically require you to prove a change of circumstances.

How do your prove a change of circumstances?

  • With documentation of a change in pay such as a pay stub
  • With unemployment paperwork
  • With medical bills proving a larger than normal expense
  • With a signed and notarized letter from the custodial parent

What the court may or may not allow can vary. It's important that you look up your specific state's laws regarding support modification. For example, some states place time limits on when you can ask for a modification. Some other states have strict guidelines on what constitutes enough of a change to require a modification.

Because each case is different, you should consider speaking with a family or child custody attorney about your situation. They can help you navigate through the proper paperwork and necessary steps. In cases where the custodial parent is against the modification, your lawyer can help you prove to the judge why it's necessary.