The amount of child support that you pay to your ex-spouse is an important part of your family budget. Unfortunately, when you get a divorce, your ex-spouse may not be as cooperative when it comes to reducing or eliminating child support obligations. In these cases, both parents must work hard to convince the court to change the amount they pay. Unfortunately, often this process takes years. Even if you’re able to convince the court to reduce or eliminate your obligation, you may still be required to pay the remainder at a later date, depending upon the specific provisions of your child support modification agreement. This can put a great amount of stress on both you and your ex-spouse, so you should be prepared for the possibility that you may not be able to maintain your current child support obligations.
Although child support obligations vary from one state to the other, in most cases, to modify child support payments, the parent that pays the most needs to first show that a significant change in family circumstances has occurred. This may include a wage decrease, a decrease in hours worked, or the birth or placement of a child. If the judge believes that you’ve done everything possible to adjust your financial situation, then he may be willing to reduce or eliminate your obligation. If you’ve tried to work with the courts to establish a more manageable payment plan without success, you may need to come up with a different way of paying down your obligations.
One example of a parent having to adjust their obligation is when they move to New York. If you moved to New York to take care of your child, and now you and your spouse are no longer able to meet regularly, then you’ll have to establish a new weekly schedule for visitation. If the judge feels that you’ve changed your residence too much, or that you don’t spend enough time with your child, then he may order you to pay a significantly lower amount of child support. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you automatically lose your obligation; it just means that you will have to adjust your lifestyle to continue to live up to your agreement.
The second example of a parent who may require an upward modification of child support obligations is when their income has increased. In many states, this increase needs to be supported by proof that the income has been increased. The judge will look at several factors before determining an upward adjustment. First, he’ll consider your income and expenses. If your income has increased, and if you can prove it, then the court will probably make an upward adjustment. However, if the judge does not believe that your income has been increased, or that you’re unable to prove it, then the court may not be able to make an upward adjustment.
There are a few other situations where you might be required to modify your obligation. If you (or the other parent) have been given physical custody of your child, then you may have a substantially higher responsibility to meet your obligation. Also, if one of the parents has suffered from a serious impairment that causes the child to require special medical care, then your obligation to pay child support may be modified. It is important to emphasize that if the court ordered an upward modification, that it is permanent, meaning that it will be difficult for you to undo it.
These are just some examples of situations in which you may be required to modify your child support obligation. Hopefully, though, if you’ve done everything possible to meet your obligation to pay child support, then the court will agree with your assessment and modify the terms of your child support. But again, it is important to emphasize that modifying the terms of child support is not automatic. You must petition the court in any event.