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divorce and children

Life Changes: Seeking a Child Support Modification

When married couples get divorced, the non-custodial parent must contribute financial support. Child support can be agreed upon between parents or court ordered, depending on how contentious the divorce is and the extent of disputed issues. The amount a non-custodial parent will have to pay is determined based on the family's financial circumstances, or ability to pay, and statutory guidelines. When circumstances change the support order can be adjusted to reflect new realities. Change Is Constant Change is constant in life, but some changes are intense and we need help to get through them. The kinds of life changes that generally lead to a modification of a child support order are changes in employment or the discovery or a serious medical condition impacting earnings. Remarriage by the non-custodial parent, however, is unlikely to be a valid basis for a changed support order. Parents can agree to almost anything and if your ex is fine with you discontinuing support because you are starting a new family, that is probably fine. But get it in writing. Parents may modify support arrangements to reflect their current needs but must still seek final court approval for the agreement to be official and legal. Court Approval If cooperation was so easy you might not have split up to begin with, so it's common to make modification requests with the court. Even parents who agree on an arrangement must have it reviewed and approved by a court following the procedures outlined in their state's statute. Generally speaking, a modification must be made to the court that issued the support order, and this applies whether you are seeking approval of an already-reached agreement or need the court's help reaching a new agreement. Proving Your Point Whether you seek modification and can reach an agreement or need the court to do the heavy lifting, you should make it easy to get what you seek by providing proof in support of your position. If you can show evidence of a life change so grave it impacts your ability to pay what you owe, you stand a much better chance of having a modification request approved. For example, say you seek a modified support order based on a serious injury or a diagnosis of serious illness -- make sure that along with your request, you provide medical documentation, newly arisen expenses, lost work time, and anything else that indicates you simply cannot make the payments as previously ordered. Talk to a Lawyer If you're having trouble making your child support payments or need a modification, talk to a lawyer and get help handling your request. Many family law attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Find Family Law Attorneys Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Get Legal Help With Child Support (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Summaries of State Child Support Laws (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Determining Parents' Income (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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