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How To Modify Child Support Orders



When the parents of a minor child separate, the court will order the non-custodial parent to make payments to help support the child. These payments will continue until the child is an adult and capable of self-support. However, the amount of the child support order is not etched into stone. If circumstances change, the court may order a modification. If you believe that your current support order does not reflect recent changes in your circumstances, these three steps can help you win an adjustment:

  1. Determine What You Are Asking
  2. Most states determine child support amounts by following a set formula. The court will consider a number of factors, including:

    • The income of both parents
    • The number of children
    • Extraordinary expenses paid by either party

    If your circumstances have changed so that the formula requires you to pay a lower amount, your case will be much simpler. For example, if you were fired from your job, you could receive a reduction in child support payments simply by submitting documentation proving your termination. However, if you are asking the court to depart from the number set by the formula, you will have to persuade the judge that it would be unfair to require you to pay the full amount.

  3. Avoid Common Pitfalls
  4. Many parents appear for their hearing thinking they will win easily. Child support law is complicated, however, and you must be careful to avoid these pitfalls:

    • Neglecting to provide documentation - Court proceedings are final. If you do not have the necessary evidence at the hearing, you will not be allowed to present it later. Make sure to bring all relevant documents to every court appearance.
    • Failing to anticipate the other party's argument - The other party will have their own version of events and may have even consulted an attorney. Prepare to disprove their case in addition to proving your own.
    • Thinking appearance is unimportant - Court proceedings are somber events. Judges interpret casual dress and sloppy grooming as a sign of disrespect, so take time to change out of your work clothes before your hearing.

  5. Hire A Child Support Attorney
  6. Child support law can be bewilderingly complex to outsiders, and Internet research cannot fully prepare you for your hearing. Only an experienced child support lawyer can adequately explain your case to the judge and ensure that you receive a fair outcome.