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When is it appropriate to seek a child support modification?

Ending a relationship, particularly if it is through divorce, can wreak financial havoc on an individual's life. Sure, these individuals have to find a way to divide their assets and figure out whether alimony is appropriate, but they might also have to deal with child support matters. Regardless of which side of a child support one finds him or herself, the matter can be highly contentious for a variety of reasons. Chief amongst them is nonpayment. Another, and somewhat related issue, is child support modification.

Child support modification occurs when a court orders that an already established child support obligation be changed. The modification may either increase or decrease the amount of child support paid. However, before a modification can be made, either a custodial or noncustodial parent must petition the court. The court will then consider a number of factors to determine if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that justifies a modification.

There are a number of events that could give rise to a substantial change in circumstances. For example, when a noncustodial parent changes jobs, he or she may make less money and therefore be unable to pay his or her obligation. The knife cuts the other way, too, though, so a custodial parent may be able to successfully seek more child support if a noncustodial parent changes jobs and makes more income. Other justifiable reasons for seeking a child support modification include unemployment, incarceration, and an unexpected medical condition affecting either parent or the child.

Although child custody modifications can be agreed to amongst the parties without taking the matter before a judge, parents need to be careful to ensure that they are not being taken advantage of. Therefore, those who are contending with child support issues may want to speak with a family law attorney to determine how best to proceed.

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