Sometimes, child support orders are established amidst divorce, but then changes in either parent’s lives may necessitate an update. Modification may be possible, as long as there were not terms within the child support order that mentioned changes are not permitted. Even if both you and your former spouse agree that a modification is needed, the judge must approve these changes in order for the terms to be legally enforceable.
Where to Begin
You may want to start by submitting a request to the court to hold a hearing where each parent expresses their preference for modification. In general, the court will not change the existing order unless the parent who desires the change can show proof of newly developed life circumstances. The court uses this rule to help lessen the number of child support modification requests they receive, in addition to keeping things as consistent as possible for the children involved.
Examples of Life Changes
Life may throw us curve balls once in a while, where we must rearrange our finances in order to live within our means. When a request for modification is submitted, the parent who filed must then wait for a judge to look over the application and schedule a hearing date. There are certain life changes that commonly result in an update of the child support order, including:
- A child has suffered a medical emergency, newly diagnosed condition or disability that is serious and/or life-long
- The paying parent is temporarily unable to pay child support amounts due to an illness, loss of job or medical emergency
- The parent receiving child support payments has encountered a health hardship or temporary financial loss
- Either parent has recently received additional income due to remarrying
- Either parent has changed jobs that has a much higher or lower salary
- Either parent is having trouble managing a previously or newly diagnosed disability
- There has been a substantial change in the needs of the children
The Importance of Evidence
When applying for a modification in child support orders and during the hearing itself, it is crucial that the parent who filed brings forward tangible evidence of their life changes. It may be in the best interest of the parent who needs child support modification, to meet with an attorney for guidance. If a parent does not communicate his or her needs clearly or with enough supportive evidence, the request for modification may be denied. And since the court system often frowns upon parents who frequently request such changes, it is unlikely the parent will be given another chance for a very long time.
Hiring an Attorney
A parent who is struggling due to either being on the receiving or paying end of the child support orders, can benefit from consulting with an child support lawyer Rockville, MD chooses. An attorney can help you get prepared for your court hearing and answer any questions you have, so you can walk in feeling more confident.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and child support.