Child support modification is an important process to know about, whether you're the parent receiving child support or the one paying it. After a divorce, child support can be an ongoing source of tension between you and your ex – especially when it's not paid. Modification of child support allows you and your ex to change the details of a child support agreement when circumstances change. Child support can be modified voluntarily, or it can be modified by a court order if payments are not substantial enough or are proving too difficult for the paying parent to cope with.
Read on to learn more about how the modification of child support works, when it can be done and how to request it.
Even when both ex-spouses agree the child support needs to be modified, the process needs to be done formally through the court system so the courts have an official record of the changes. This prevents any disputes from arising later on, ensuring the proper documents are kept to show exactly why the changes were made and when.
When Child Support Can Be Modified
Generally speaking, any major change in circumstances can be a cause for modifying child support. The change in circumstances may relate to the child – for example, the child may develop an illness that requires ongoing medical treatment which needs to be paid for. Or the change in circumstances may relate to one of the parents – your ex may lose his or her job, for example.
But changes in circumstance don't need to be that extreme to be a cause for changes to child support. For example, even a change in the time a child spends with each parent can be an important factor. Usually when child support is first calculated, the time the child will spend with each parent is taken into account. So if the custody situation is altered – if both parents agree to switch from single custody to shared custody, for example – that may alter the amount of child support that needs to be paid.
How Much Can Child Support Be Modified
How much child support can be modified depends entirely on the nature and extent of the changes in circumstances. Normally what happens is that the formula for calculating child support in your state will simply be applied again, this time taking into account all the factors relating to your new situation.
If your spouse is applying to have your child support payments increased and you think this is unfair, you need to find out how to calculate child support in your state and then apply the calculation to your own situation to see how much you should be paying. Likewise, if you're on the other side and you think your ex should be paying more, find out how the calculation works in your state, apply it, and then you'll get a good idea of how much the correct amount is.
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