When parents get divorced or are unmarried, one parent may be required to pay the other child support in order to share the costs of raising the child. Child support payments can be a considerable expense and sometimes parents may have trouble paying child support. Children have a legal right to receive financial support from both of their parents. If a parent is ordered to pay child support and he or she fails to make payments in full and on time, he or she can face serious civil and even criminal consequences.
Requesting a Child Support Modification
When the court issues a child support order, it is intended to be fair and reasonable based on the parents’ financial circumstances and the child’s needs. However, sometimes those circumstances change and the parents need to change their child support order. In order to be granted a modification to your child support order, you must file a petition for modification with the court. A modification may be granted if a party can show that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” Examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:
- A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income including a parent losing his or her job
- A significant change in the needs of the child such as increased medical expenses
- There has been a major change in parenting time or child custody arrangements
- The payor parent has experienced a significant increase in his or her cost of living
- One of the parents has remarried
Only future child support payments can be modified through a petition for modification. Payments that are past due must be paid in full based on the previous amount established.