Top Five Child Support Modification Tips

Child Support may require some modification

There is some disagreement about what exactly the point of child support is. In general, child support is supposed to help keep a single-parent household out of poverty. Some states think it should do more than that, however.

In some cases, child support is intended to ensure that a child keeps up the same standard of living as though his or her parents were still together.

Other states just try to even the playing field, so that both parents are living roughly the same lifestyle even though they are separate.

The problem with meeting these goals is that kids grow up and people change.

Here are some child support modification tips to keep up with these changes  

1. Periodic reviews may be easier

Child support amounts are most commonly set either at the divorce of a married couple or very early in the life of a child born to parents that are not in a romantic relationship.  The courts do not want to constantly review their child support decisions, but every three years or so each state does give the parents an opportunity to request an adjustment to the order.  Otherwise, the orders can usually only be reviewed when there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

2. Salary is the key

The most important factor in most child support calculations is usually the earnings or each parent.  Each state will have a different goal in mind for what outcome it is trying to force with its calculation, but the raw numbers going into the calculation are usually primarily related to earnings.

If you are collecting support, you want to make sure that the other parent is not hiding any earnings in order to minimize his payment, and you want to make sure you are not being charged with earning more than you are.  For example, if you had a big one-time bonus you do not want the court to assume you will earn that every year and reduce your support accordingly.

3. Act quickly if your earnings shrink

If you lose your job, especially as the parent paying child support, you should move quickly to adjust your child support obligations.  You may be temporarily unable to provide support for your child.  If you fail to adjust your child support amount, though, you will accumulate unpaid, delinquent child support that could hurt your credit score.  Plus, the funds can eventually be taken directly from either your paycheck, bank account, or tax refund.  

4. Custody is separate

Parents often want custody and visitation to be adjusted along with the support order, but they are different things.  If one parent fails to allow the proper visitation, that does not automatically allow the other parent to stop making child support payments.  A parent should strive to meet all his or her obligations while a dispute is going on.

Custody is an important factor in considering child support

5. An experienced lawyer can help

Family law issues are not necessarily complicated, but an experienced lawyer can walk through the necessary steps much easier than a parent trying to do it alone. If possible, consider hiring a lawyer for child support modification.  


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