You’ve been divorced. The court ordered you to make child support payments to your ex-spouse, and in the beginning, it was a crimp on your finances but you managed to make it through. Now you’ve been laid off from your job. Your cash flow has slowed to a trickle.
What can you do?
Seek child support payment modification.
Once a child support order or agreement is in place, the child support payment amount may be increased or decreased under certain circumstances when payers meet personal and or financial hardships. When these happen, child support arrangements prove unfeasible. Job loss, serious injury, remarriage or other life events that cause changes in household income sometimes create a situation for changing the child support payment arrangement by getting a child support payment modification. To lower child support payments, or to get more child support, both parents must agree to the change or have a judge order the change. Either way, the family court is involved.
How does one navigate the process in seeking child support payment modification? We’ve come up with advice in these top five tips:
Act quickly and get informed: If you are unable to pay the current child support amount, you will still owe the unpaid amount in arrears, which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and generally cannot be reduced retroactively. As soon as your circumstances change, or you learn that they will, start taking steps to secure a child support modification. Look into your state’s child support laws and learn what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances warranting a child support modification. Consult a child support attorney like you can find here on DivorceAttorneyHome.com in your area for guidance.
Try to reach an agreement with the other parent: See if the other parent will agree to modified child support payments. We all know, especially in the wake of a divorce, agreement proves difficult. But, when you consider the emotional and financial expense of running child support arrangements through the family court system, starting the discussion with agreement in mind is the best strategy. Mediation – working with an impartial third party – is also available to help parents reach common ground.
Keep making your child support payments as best you can: Do your level best to keep making the child support payments required under the current child support order. The existing child support order remains in effect – unless and until –the court issues a new child support payment order. Pay as much as you can and pay it to the letter of the the child support order. If you don’t give your best effort to pay it will certainly hurt your argument that new circumstances require a new child support payment amount – and the child support payments will pile up.
Document your change in circumstances: Whether its a job change, a change in household income, a medical disability or other big life change you will be required to demonstrate that your circumstance have changed in a significant way. Don’t forget that this change must have occurred after your existing child support order was entered by the court. If you can’t pay all of your child support because you lost your job or your paycheck has shrunk, make a serious effort to find new employment and document your job searching attempts. Me meticulous and take care to be completely accurate in stating and detailing all of your household income. You’ll need compelling evidence to get a modification in child support payments, but the rewards of your efforts can lighten a suddenly heavier burden.
File your request for child support modification with the appropriate court. You should file it with the court which issued the child support order currently in place. Whether both parents agree to a modification, or one parent wants the court to order a child support modification, you will need a new child support order issued by the appropriate court for changed child support requirements to take effect. The papers you file with the court also need to be served on the other parent.
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