Modifying Child Support Payments

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

How Can I Reduce the Amount I Pay in Child Support?

To reduce the amount you pay in child support, you need to file a “motion to modify” in your state court's family law department, particularly if it has been several years since the court issued its previous order.

The court will usually only grant a motion to modify if your financial situation has changed “substantially and continuously.” This can include job loss due to disability, added health insurance payments, unexpected educational expenses, the other parent earning more money, increased daycare and travel costs, a decrease in visitation time, or a decrease in income so that it “deviates substantially” (more than 15% in some states) from state child support guidelines.

Most states provides child support calculators that adhere to state child support guidelines to let you know if you qualify for a modification if your income has decreased. Child support payments usually range from about 20-50% or your income, depending on how much you make and the number of children you need to support.

How Can I Increase the Amount of Child Support I Receive?

Just like a reduction in child support payments, you can file a motion to modify to try to increase the amount of child support you receive. An increase in child support may be granted in certain situations. These situations can include the paying parent experiencing a substantial income gain, the receiving parent experiencing a substantial income drop, or if the child requires more support due to hospitalization or an increase in educational expenses.

If Both Parents Agree to Modify Child Support, Do We Still Have to Go To Court?

In order for a child support modification to be effective, it needs to be in writing and filed with the appropriate court. If both parents reach an agreement on how to modify child support, a court hearing is not necessary, but both parents must still file an uncontested motion to modify child support.

Can Child Support Payments Be Discharged In Bankruptcy?

Since it is a parent’s responsibility to provide for his or her child, child support payments cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Back-due child support payments previously ordered by the court cannot be reduced or adjusted by bankruptcy proceedings.  Failure to make child support payments can result in your wages being garnished, losing your drivers’ license, a lien on your property, or punishment for being in contempt of court

Do I Need a Lawyer to Modify Child Support?

The court process behind modifying child support can be challenging and complicated. Having an experienced family law attorney can help you protect your own interests. Even if both parents agree to a modification of child support, having an attorney read over the revised contract is wise.

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Last Modified: 06-12-2014 11:34 AM PDT

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