When is it Time to Make a Child Support Modification?

A child holding an adults hand

When parents separate, child support agreements are often put in place to ensure that children (and their custodial parent) have the financial resources they need for food, clothing, education, healthcare, and all of the other expenses that come with raising a child. But just as children themselves grow and change, so do the circumstances of their parents, which can necessitate a change to child support arrangements.

Despite what some may think, child support arrangements aren’t necessarily set in stone, and there are ways to go about making adjustments as needed. Provided that everyone can work together, it’s better to change an agreement to work for all involved rather than running the risk of broken child support orders and building resentment between parents; after all, such arrangements are meant to be with the best interests of your child in mind.

How child support arrangements are made

When parents of a child split, one parent may end up as the sole or primary custodial parent, meaning that the child mainly lives with them. In many of those instances, it’s incumbent upon the other parent to pay some amount toward the care and upkeep of their child.

How much that parent has to pay depends upon the state guidelines, as well as that parent’s income, the particular needs of the child, and the income of the other parent. Based upon those three items and any other factors that bear consideration, a judge will decide upon a figure for the non-custodial parent to pay each month.

The alternative to a decision from a judge is for parents to work together to come to their own arrangement for child support. Provided that the parents can put aside any animosity or hurt feelings, it’s likely a better option to work toward an agreement where both sides have a say and can follow, rather than a ruling from a judge.

Even if there is some lingering bitterness, the soon-to-be-split couple can choose mediation or alternative dispute resolution as a way to come to an agreement outside of a court process that risks turning contentious. However, whatever agreement is reached by parents outside of court still has to be approved by a judge.

How & why child support arrangements can be changed

Much can change in the lives of children and their parents in the years after a split. And depending upon those changes, one or both parents may want to seek a change to the existing child support agreement. Some common reasons for changing a child support agreement are:

  • One or both parents remarrying
  • A change in a parent’s job status and/or income
  • A change in the child’s needs or expenses
  • One parent has a child from a new relationship
  • A change to parenting time

The last point is an important one, and an often overlooked one. It makes sense that as a parent’s income or ability to earn an income increases or decreases, or as new spouses or children enter the picture, the levels of child support could change accordingly. If a parent takes on additional parenting responsibilities by caring for their child more and having the child stay with them more often, they may be entitled to seek a lesser child support amount given their increased direct contribution to their child’s care.

In cases where a change to child support is sought, the parents can choose to work together to craft a new agreement for child support to take to a judge for approval. If one parent is seeking a change independent of the other, they will have to file a motion with the family court to make a change to the existing agreement, and have that request approved by a judge—here a LegalShield family lawyer could help.

Why you need legal help changing a child support arrangement

A child support arrangement is an important thing for any parent to have and maintain. And while it’s important for both parents to work toward an agreement if possible, it’s crucial to have expert advice for the finer points to make sure the arrangement protects both parties and will be approved by the court.

Couples going through a divorce with children need to have a lawyer on their side to look out for their best interests, and with LegalShield, you don’t have to skip a lawyer due to the cost. For only $29.25 a month you can work with a divorce lawyer on any child support questions and concerns, with phone consultations and document review on any pressing issues. Sign up today to make sure you and your child are protected.


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