Non-custodial parents may be ordered to pay child support to help cover the cost of raising a child. In some states, the amount of child support a parent is required to pay is based on the combined income total for both parents. In other states, the child support is calculated using a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income and the number of children. If you are ordered to pay child support and your circumstances change, you can petition to have the judge redetermine your support obligation.
Basis for Change
Child support orders are modified if there is a change in your income, expenses or custody. A change in the custodial parent's finances or the child's expenses, including educational or medical needs, can also prompt a child support order review. State or local agencies may conduct periodic reviews to ensure the amount of support paid is fair and accurate. Possible reasons to file a motion to lower child support include becoming permanently disabled, having new children to support, or losing your job and unable to find employment at the same wage.
Filing the Motion
You can either hire an attorney to modify your child support order or file the petition yourself, called pro-se. You can obtain the forms from your local courthouse. The paperwork may vary among states, but you will typically need to complete a Request for Review of Child Support Order. The request simply asks you to select the reason for requesting a change. You will need to provide income tax returns, pay stubs and any evidence you have to support your claim. If you are disabled, medical records or an approval letter from Social Security are likely required. Submit an updated child support worksheet listing your income and expenses. There is usually a fee to file the motion, but some states may waive the fee if you are insolvent.
Obligation to Pay
While waiting for your hearing, continue paying your child support. Staying current is important to help your case. Until the judge officially changes your payment amount, you are obligated to pay. Falling behind may result in enforcement action, including license suspension or even jail time. If are you truly unable to afford the payment, you can apply for relief by filing a motion to temporarily reduce your payments.
The custodial parent can file a response to your petition fighting the reduction and possibly asking for an increase. If this occurs, you both have an opportunity to present your points at the child support hearing. The judge makes a decision based on the evidence both parties provide and the amount of support your child requires. If your motion to reduce support is approved, the new order becomes effective immediately. You are still responsible for any unpaid child support or arrears.
- Divorce Net: Child Support in Cases of Underemployment or Unemployment
- Florida Courts: Family Law Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support
- California Department of Child Support Services: Noncustodial Parent
- Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: Modification of a Child Support Order