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Adjusting Child Support

Once ordered, child support payments are required until the child is no longer a minor, becomes active duty military, is adopted, or the child is emancipated. For many cases, this is nearly 18 years of payments. Yet, a lot can happen from year to year, let alone in 18 years. People lose jobs, gain employment, and get promoted. There are just as many life changes that can alter the need for support as there are job changes. For instance, medical issues, a new spouse, and a change in disposable income. Therefore, it is very likely that in the duration of child support payments, the amount may need to be adjusted.             

Child support is automatically stopped under certain circumstances. If they are not, you are welcome to request a credit for the time it was supposed to be stopped, without going to court. This is traditionally true if you are working with a local child support agency. Generally, a temporary stop of payments occurs if you are in jail, prison, or involuntarily institutionalized for more than 90 consecutive days. They are only stopped AFTER the 90 days, therefore the first 90 days are still due.             

The easiest way to change your child support is through a mutual agreement. If you and the other parent are able to reach a compromise that works best for the child, a significant amount of footwork and court time can be avoided. This agreement should be in writing to protect everyone involved. Next, a judge needs to sign the agreement. Without a judge’s signature, the existing court order and support payment will not be changed.             

Sometimes, changing child support is not as easy as reaching an agreement. There are many occasions when an agreement is not able to be reached. You have the right to request a change at any time if the current ordered amount is less than the guideline minimum amount. This is true even if both parents initially agreed on the amount. If this is not the case, then a court hearing will need to be requested. In most states, the parent requesting the change will need to prove a change of circumstances in order to get the new support order approved. Situations likely to be approved (at least temporarily) are:

  • Income of one or both parents have changed
  • A child’s medical emergency
  • One parent lost their job
  • Temporary medical or financial emergency on the part of the parent
  • Cost of living changes

If you meet any of these conditions or any other conditions that you feel may affect the amount paid for child support, it may be a wise decision to request a change. If it is approved, the adjustment traditionally is in effect until another situation arises that would need another modification. 

Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can make the process much smoother. It can be stress-reducing in an emotional situation to have someone on your behalf and fight for you every step of the way.  If you are experiencing a situation in which you need to alter your child support, we empathize and would love to offer an initial consultation. Call an expert family lawyer, like an expert family attorney in Fairfax, VA, today.

Thank you to the experts at May Law, LLP, for their insight and expertise in family law.


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