Child support is a court-ordered amount of money that a parent pays each month to provide for their child. It comes into play as the result of separated parents and is meant to let the child share in the standard of living of both parents. 

A parent or child’s legal guardian can ask for a change (called a “modification”) to the amount of court-ordered child support whenever they want, but it will just become a petition initially. A local child support agency or child support lawyer can help review your case and lead you through the process. If you are the one receiving child support payments, they can also help you open a case anytime.

How is Child Support Calculated?

The way child support is calculated can vary depending on the state you live in, but it typically takes the following into consideration:

  • Total gross income of both parents
  • Existing alimony payments
  • Health insurance costs for the child
  • Daycare expenses

To put it into perspective, the average child support payment is $5,150/year or $430/month according to the Census Bureau’s last available statistics. If this number concerns you, the courts have the final say in child support orders and may deviate from the formula. 

Reasons You Should Ask For A Child Support Modification

Despite the court’s best judgment to come up with a fair amount of child support, there are cases where circumstances change and you may be unable to pay for the amount. Here are a few great reasons to ask for a modification:

  • Getting fired or laid off from your job(quitting yourself is seen as voluntary so it doesn’t help)
  • You get a new or additional job
  • Either parents’ incomes increase or decrease
  • Custody or visitation changes
  • You become disabled
  • Sent to jail or prison
  • Deployed to active military service

If any of the above points fit your situation, there’s a high likelihood that your child support modification request will be accepted. Before asking for a modification, it’s important to remember that a modification request can be made for free and the amount can go up or down based on given information. If both parents can come to an agreement about an amount, a signed contract can be filed with the court. If there is no agreement, you will receive a court hearing to change the amount.

What You Need To Provide To Change a Child Support Amount

We’ve established how and why you would want to change a child support amount, now let’s go over what you need to show the court for this to be a smooth process. Keep in mind that changing a child support amount is typically possible only after 3 years have passed since the original court order. This is mainly to show an actual change in situation, rather than a small bump along the road. 

The evidence you need to show is directly correlated to the reason you asked for the change in the first place. If you asked for a change because of getting fired or laid off, you will need to provide proof of income and expenses. If you become disabled, you must provide legal proof of disability. Typically, a court will ask for multiple forms of proof. Some other useful things to have on hand are childcare expenses, birth certificates for new children, and proof of remarriage.

Being Prepared To Make a Modification To Child Support

By understanding the process of modifying child support, parents can ensure that their child’s financial needs are met appropriately. It’s essential to be aware of the legal grounds for modification, gather necessary evidence, and consider negotiation or court proceedings if needed. If you’re considering modifying a child support amount, seeking legal advice can help you navigate the process effectively.