It makes sense that parents should pay child support in order to help ensure that their children have the necessary resources they need to live healthy and enjoyable lives. But it doesn’t make sense for child support payments to be rigid, unchanging figures. After all, life is filled with changes that throw a wrench in our best-laid plans.

Child support payments are going to need to be changed in certain circumstances, but just what are those circumstances? Let’s take a deeper look at what it takes to qualify for child support modification. After that, we’ll also see what you need to do to request a child support modification when the new child support payment change will go into effect, and whether or not you need an attorney to represent you throughout the child support modification request process.

How Do I Qualify for a Child Support Modification?

In order to qualify for a child support modification, there has to have been some change in the circumstances of your life relating to one of a few options. If your circumstances do not meet one of the following criteria then you will not be able to get a child support modification at this time, unfortunately.

The criteria for qualifying for a child support modification are as follows:

  • Change in Income: The most commonly held reason to qualify for a child support modification is due to a change in your income. If your child support agreement was made at a time when you were earning a lot of money but you’ve since lost your job, it doesn’t make sense to keep the payment at the same level.
  • Change in Time or Custody: If there has been a change in which parent has custody of the child then it makes sense that the paying parent should likely be changed and therefore the child support agreement would need to be modified. When parenting time is modified, child support payments should also be modified to reflect the new arrangement.
  • Incarceration: If the paying parent is going to be incarcerated shortly then a change may be accepted. This will depend largely on the circumstances of the particular situation.
  • Three Years: A child support modification can be requested once every three years regardless of the above circumstances. If you have your child support agreement put into place less than three years ago then you are going to need to qualify for a modification along one of the paths listed above. However, once you get to your third year you can request a modification. Three years from that request, you could request another modification without having to qualify based among the above criteria.

These criteria are followed very closely and so if your circumstances don’t match then you are going to need to consider alternative solutions to your problem.

What Does It Take to Request a Child Support Modification?

You can request a child support modification by first completing a Petition to Modify a Child Support Order Packet. This is a modification packet that will require you to complete a Petition to Modify a Child Support Order, and Affidavit of Financial Information.

The Petition to Modify is the actual request to modify the child support order. The Affidavit of Financial Information is a way in which you provide up-to-date information about your financial situation.

How and When Will My Child Support Payments Change?

It is not possible to say just how your child support payments will be affected. However, logic dictates that if you are making less money than previously then you will need to make a smaller payment. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case. In some circumstances, you may be making less money but have an increase in your payment because of another change such as a change in the amount of time spent with the child.

Because each person’s circumstances are unique, we can’t say what the outcome will be in terms of a change in the payment itself.

What we can say, however, is that the change will likely go into effect pretty quickly. It will depend on how long it takes to get a judge to issue and sign the new order but after signing the change should be visible by the first day of the month following the signing. You may need to attend a child support hearing before the new order is issued.

Do I Need an Attorney to Represent My Child Support Modification Request?

While you do not need to seek out the services of an attorney to submit a request to have your child support order modified, it is highly recommended. There is a lot that goes into determining how child support orders should be treated and what you may easily overlook could have a large impact on the outcome of your case. It’s always better to work with a professional that understands how the law is going to look at the information in front of them and use that to present the information in the best possible light.

It can also be confusing to define whether or not a child support order should be modified. For example, how large of a change in the time spent with the child is necessary to request a modification? Does getting them on every weekend instead of every other weekend affect it? An attorney will be able to answer questions like that by comparing your circumstances against cases that had similar circumstances. That type of strategic understanding is hard to beat and you definitely want it on your side when going into any kind of legal mire such as requesting a child support modification.