When parents get divorced, there are many issues that they have to resolve. The children will generally reside with one parent and the other parent will pay child support. The details of the agreement are contained in the final divorce order. The order will indicate the parent responsible for child support, the amount of child support that they must pay, and when they must make the payments. Since child support is part of a court order, it is not something you can simply choose to reduce or stop paying altogether. If you are unable to make your current child support payments, you may be eligible for modification. It is helpful to seek guidance from a qualified Carrollton family law attorney to assist in the process.
Request a Modification
If you have a change in circumstances that prevents you from being able to pay the full amount of child support, you should seek a modification as soon as possible. A modification, if approved, will only address future payments and you will still owe any back child support in full. It can take several months or longer to get the changes reviewed. Therefore, if you lose your job, get a demotion or become disabled, you should immediately seek to change child support. Child support modifications will only be made on merit. In other words, you can’t simply ask for a reduction in the amount you pay simply because you feel it is unjust.
In order to consider a child support modification, you must have had a substantial change in your income or financial status. Generally, you cannot request a modification within two years of the order; however, there is an exception. If you suffered an extreme change in financial circumstances that resulted in a 25 percent or more change, you can request a change sooner. Another reason you may request a change is when the child comes to live with you instead of the other parent.
Either Parent May File a Petition to Modify Child Support
In some cases, a custodial parent learns that the other parent has received a large raise or taken a job with a substantial increase in pay. The parent may petition the court to obtain a larger amount of child support. Keep in mind that filing a petition for modification does not mean that it will be granted. In court, you will need to prove that the parent indeed has a much higher income than when the original order was made. The same holds true for a request for a reduction. The parent must show proof of income and provide evidence that paying child support would be a hardship.
If the court grants a change to child support, it supersedes the original order. There is no such thing as a temporary reduction in child support. If, after two years, the parent is no longer in a financial crisis, the other parent may again petition for a change. Remember that child support orders are completely separate from visitation and you cannot withhold visits with the child because of nonpayment of child support.
Child support can be a difficult and complex subject. You want to make sure that your child has the money necessary to provide for the necessities in life. If you feel you may be in need of a change to child support, you can get the legal help you need from Moffitt Law, LLC. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.