.Child support may seem rigid and fixed, but there is a way to modify the child support you are paying or receiving. Even if a child custody order is already established, parents can go back and request modifications to the child support agreement if there has been a substantial change in circumstances and if a change is in the best interest of the child.
The law expressly provides a means to satisfy the grounds of a significant change of circumstances, noting that if the amount provided by the guidelines under the present circumstances of the parties is different by at least 15% or $50.00, whichever is greater than the previously ordered obligation. This modification can be short- or long-term and can help ensure that children get the support they need from both parents.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the process of changing your child support order, and what you’ll need to support your case.
Why Request a Child Support Modification?
After a couple separates, child support proceedings begin. When minor children are involved in the separation, the law dictates that those children are entitled to the same level of financial support they would enjoy if the two parents remained married.
During the child support proceedings, each parent will be called to provide evidence that supports his or her ability to pay child support, such as pay stubs and tax returns. The amount of child support is determined by a formula based on the amount of timesharing each parent has and includes credits for health insurance and daycare cost of the child. If a parent disagrees with this amount or experiences circumstances that necessitate an adjustment to the amount, they can request modifications.
Before the court grants a modification, though, the parent seeking the change will need to provide ample evidence of their change of circumstances.
What the Court Considers During Child Support Modification Hearings
While there are many reasons a parent might request a modification in their child support, the most common include the following:
1. The Age of the Child
When the child reaches majority, is emancipated, marries, joins the armed services, or dies, child support should change. If your child support order does not provide that child support shall end when the child reaches 18 or graduates high school, you will need to modify child support, so you are no longer obligated to pay. Without a court order, it will not end automatically.
2. Income Decrease
If a parent loses their primary income or experiences a drastic decrease in income, they may be unable to meet their child support obligation and may move to modify their child support obligation.
3. A Change in Timesharing
If your new job affects your timesharing, your child support determination will be affected as well. In some cases, a new job will satisfy the substantial change in circumstances required to change the amount of timesharing. Which, in turn, affects the child support calculation.
4. An Increase of Responsibilities for the Minor
As a child ages, the responsibilities associated with caring for that child generally increase. If there are unforeseen expenses for a child, for example, resulting from an injury, that translates into an increased financial responsibility, a parent may request an increase in child support. Note: these increased responsibilities must be unforeseen. Extracurricular expenses are anticipated, so they would not satisfy the substantial change in circumstances.
5. Mental or Physical incapacity
If your child is injured such that they will not be able to care for themselves upon reaching majority age, you will want to seek a child support modification so that your child is cared for beyond the age of 18.
6. A Large Windfall
If a parent with the most timesharing realizes that the parent paying child support has come into a large sum of money, either via inheritance or a substantial income increase, they may petition the court for an increase in child support.
Proving any of the above will require extensive documentation, which your child support attorney will help you with.
How to Request a Child Support Modification
If you’re interested in requesting a child support modification for your family, you’ll need to hire a child custody lawyer. The laws surrounding child support are complex in Pensacola, and a skilled attorney can help you secure the support your child deserves.
While you’ll have to petition the courts for the child support modifications you want, a child support attorney will advise you on the information you’ll need to present. As well as the elements that make approval of your case more likely.
Ready to learn more about child support modifications and how our team can help? Contact Mary McDaniel at MGM Law today.