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Reasons for a child support modification

You've been paying child support for two years since your divorce. You're still very involved with the kids and, in that light, you're happy to help out. No one likes mailing away money every month, but these are your kids and the money helps give them a better life.

A potential change

Lately, though, you've been thinking it's time for a modification. You know this isn't something you can do on your own. Even if your ex agrees, the two of you still need to go to court to have the modification made official. So, what reasons is the court looking for to grant the modification? A few examples include:

  • A drop in income. You lost your job, or your hours got cut. Perhaps you work for yourself and you lost a major client. No matter how it happened, you are not pulling in as much money as you were when the child support order was first created.
  • A second family. Maybe you got married again. Your new spouse already had one child and now the two of you are going to have another child together. Realistically, you need to divide your money up differently to help support all of these children. The ones living with you can't get neglected.

Modifications can be temporary or permanent. Maybe you did lose your job, but you expect to get another one in six months. You may not need to change those payments forever, but you can't make them while you're out of work.

Reasons for an increase

One important thing to note is that not all modifications are decreases. Perhaps it's not you who wants the modification; it's your ex. Reasons the court could order you to pay more include:

  • Earning substantially more money. When the order was first passed down, you worked a low-level job for an hourly wage, but you've now worked your way up to a substantial salary.
  • Getting a big inheritance. It significantly changes your financial situation, even if your work income is the same.
  • The child has additional needs. The payments may need to get adjusted to compensate for changes in the child's life. For instance, a previously healthy child gets older and needs both braces and glasses, bringing about a lot of additional costs even with insurance.
  • A decrease in your ex's income. When you split up, your ex had a good job, but now he or she is struggling with part-time work and trying to make ends meet.

The court may rule in favor of a modification if it's in the children's best interests. That, after all, is the goal of child support. It's very important to know all of your legal rights and exactly how to proceed to make any official modifications.

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