Determining a fair amount for a child support order can be difficult, especially when changes in circumstances affect your income drastically. If you feel you are either paying too much in child support or are not receiving enough due to changes in your income, or it's been several years since your order was established, you could qualify for a child support modification through the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Decide why you want your child support agreement modified. Have you had a change in income? Has your ex had a change in income? If you have heard that your ex-spouse has gotten a better job and it has been several years since your guidelines were established, you may be eligible for a modification. When you first established your child support order, the county took your income and the other party's income and determined your child support amount. The county takes into account health care costs, day care costs, spousal support paid or received, and other children, excluding stepchildren, living in the household.
Get proof of change in income—yours or the other party's—if you want to modify your child support. You will need to contact your child support case manager. Different states may have different qualifications for doing modifications, but here are some examples of acceptable reasons: Either party has experienced loss of unemployment for at least six months, either party has become permanently disabled (and can provide proof), either party is institutionalized or incarcerated with no chance of parole for the duration of the child's minority, or one or more child has emancipated. Call your case manager to find out exactly what proof you need to provide to modify your order.
Visit the Alllaw website for child support calculators and run your guidelines. (See Resources, below.) You will need to know the other party's income to estimate how much your child support should be. However, your case manager will determine the final amount by examining what the other party provides.
Prepare for a long process. The counties have to follow certain policies, procedures and timelines. It may take up to six months for your child support amount to change, and even longer if one party objects to the new amount and a hearing is scheduled.
Tips & Warnings
- The Child Support Enforcement Agency will modify your support for free as long as you meet the qualifications. It is a service they are legally obligated to provide. However, if you are on good terms with the other party and wish to modify your support at a faster pace, you can have an attorney file an Agreed Judgment Entry ordering the new amount of child support.