Most parents love their child and want what is best for them. So if you have lost your job or face a severe medical crisis and you find you can no longer meet your child support obligations, it’s important to take the right steps for your child. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are millions of custodial parents who are due child support, and many of these cases involve a parent who cannot pay. If you cannot pay your child support obligations, you may be able to modify your child support order.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem or make excuses. It’s time to contact the Child Support Enforcement Office in the state where the child support order was issued and find out your options. For instance, many parents whose circumstances have changed are able to modify their child support order after a separation or divorce by filing a formal motion requesting a modification.
Do I have to go to court to modify a child support order?
Although some couples may feel like it’s easier to simply make an oral agreement with their ex-spouse, if you do not have the agreement formalized, it will not be recognized by the courts and you could be liable for all past due payments. With this in mind, it is always better to formalize all child support payment arrangements with a new legal agreement.
Steps to modify a child support order
Although the specific steps to modify a child support order will vary by state, the first step is generally to submit a written request to modify the child support order. The state will then review the request and send notification to the other parent. This process varies but will require the state to review the reason for the modification.
The state will then generate a proposed modification to the child support order. This process generally takes about 30 days or longer. The proposed modification is then presented to all parties and may be modified further.
In Oregon, if the proposal is accepted or not challenged it will be finalized 34 days after it was served, more time is allowed if either parent requests changes to the amended child support order. If one parent does not accept the modified order they can request a hearing.
Can I expect a child support modification to be granted?
There are general reasons the courts may allow a child support order to be modified. Although state laws and courts vary, modifications are generally considered if either parent’s income has significantly decreased or increased due to disability or job loss, one of the spouses has remarried and the new spouse’s income significantly increases the household income, the child support laws in the state have changed, the cost of living has increased substantially, or the needs of the child have changed substantially as they have aged.
If you find you cannot pay your child support payments do not wait months and months to find out your options. Talk to a lawyer now.
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