Life is full of unexpected changes. When a financial situation changes or a family emergency occurs, many parents find that they need additional child support from their former partner. Under certain conditions, you can ask the court “modify” an existing child support obligation.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
Regardless of the reason, a modification of a child support order can only happen if you show a “change in circumstances.” The degree of change depends on the timing for modification. If less than a year has passed, the moving parent must show a “substantial change in circumstance. If more than a year but less than two years, there are certain conditions that require less of a change in circumstances. If it has been over two years, it is less difficult to adjust the order so long as the financial circumstances of the parents have actually changed.
Change in Income
One of the most common reasons why custodial parents seek to increase child support payments is because their former partner is now making substantially more money than when the support order was signed. This may be because the non-custodial parent was unemployed at the time child support was decided, or because the non-custodial parent received a raise or a new position with a company that pays more.
In some situations, a decrease in the custodial parent’s income may justify a modification of the support order. For example, if both parents made good incomes, they may have agreed on an amount of child support which was different from what the state guidelines suggest. If the custodial parent loses his or her job, that person may be able to petition the court to modify the order to increase the non-custodial parent’s obligations in order to make up for the loss of income.
Change in Family Status
Many things can happen in the years after a divorce is finalized. People get remarried and have additional children, the kids may leave for college, or someone could fall ill or become disabled. Any of these circumstances can affect the amount of money that a person can pay towards child support, and the amount of money that a parent needs to cover bills and expenses.
When life moves on, the court system allows parents to renegotiate their original child support and visitation schedules. Just as they did during their divorce, parents have the opportunity to discuss and mediate their plans to move forward after circumstances change.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law our attorneys understand that your child’s needs may be different now than they were when you signed your divorce paperwork. We can work with your former spouse to modify your support agreement and create a plan that works for your family.
For help with your situation, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.