Child support is one bill that is almost impossible to avoid paying, and if you're like most parents, you don't want to avoid it – you want to contribute to your child's care. However, that doesn't mean that paying court ordered child support is always easy. A variety of life circumstances can interfere with your ability to pay the required amount. When that happens, it may be possible to modify your child support order. Take a look at a few ways that you may be able to get your child support lowered to an amount you can handle.
Modification by Mutual Agreement
The simplest way to get a child support order modified is to come to an agreement with your child's other parent. If you and your ex have an amicable relationship, then a conversation about your financial circumstances and your child's needs is probably the best place to start. Your ex may be more likely to agree to a modification if you approach them first – filing court documents with no warning can be interpreted as adversarial, and may cause your child's other parent to object even if they would have agreed to the change under different circumstances.
If you and your ex can agree on a new amount, all that you have to do is ask a judge to sign off on it. This is usually a simple formality. It may become complicated if the amount that you're asking to pay is below your state's child support guidelines, but if you and your ex agree and you can show justification for the lower amount, it will probably be approved.
Modification Because Your Circumstances Change
If you can't approach your ex, or if your ex won't agree to a change, you can request a modification from the court. However, you have to give the court a reason to consider the modification. A common reason for requesting a modification is a change in your financial circumstances.
If you lose your job, declare bankruptcy, or become seriously ill, you will most likely be eligible for a child support modification. If you're disabled and you're awarded SSI (Supplemental Security Income) then you may be able to stop or substantially lower your payments. SSI is considered a welfare benefit, and therefore can't be considered when calculating child support payments. If SSI is your only income, you may not have to make any payments. Bear in mind that other types of Social Security payments are subject to child support collection.
Modification Because Your Ex's Circumstances Change
One more way to get a modification is when your ex-partner's circumstances change for the better. If your child's custodial parent leaves a $30,000 a year job to take a $100,000 a year job, or remarries a new spouse who brings in a substantially higher income, you may be able to ask for a modification.
In most cases, a change in your ex's income alone won't be enough – you'll still have to show a reason why you should contribute less. However, if you're low-income or have a valid hardship, it will be much easier to convince a judge that you should pay less if your ex is making more and your child's quality of life won't suffer.
An attorney can be a great help if you need to go to court to get a child support order modified. Click here for more information on child support.