Changing A Child Support Order After A Divorce Is Final
Once a judge orders child support in a divorce proceeding, the amount ordered is not final and permanent when the divorce decree is issued. It is always possible for the parents of the child to ask a court to increase or decrease the amount of money ordered to be paid. This increase or decrease is referred to as a modification of child support, and can generally be made in a case of a significant change in circumstances.
A significant change in circumstances usually involves a job loss or increase, or a change in a child’s needs. While a legitimate job loss can be the basis for seeking a modification to reduce the amount of child support, quitting a job to avoid making the ordered amount of support is not likely to result in a favorable ruling. If a court finds that a parent quit his or her job to avoid payments, the court can still base payments on the parent’s earning history and education level instead of current circumstance.
When a parent who is ordered to pay child support is in a situation where he cannot afford to make payments because of a significant change in circumstances, he still has to pay the ordered amount of child support until he seeks and is granted a modification. Any amount that is in arrears during the time of hardship will still be owed, and interest can be charged. Arrears are owed until paid, even after the child is no longer a minor, and the payments may sometimes be ordered to be paid to the adult child.
If a parent cannot pay child support because of incarceration, he can seek to modify an existing order. The parent is not exempted from paying support because of the incarceration. However, if he files a motion on time, he may not technically owe arrears for the time he was incarcerated to the time the court finally has a hearing on the motion to modify the child support order.
If you are seeking modification of a child support order to increase the amount paid by your former spouse, you should consider your circumstances before filing. If your own income has increased due to a raise in pay or other factors, you may not get an increase in support, and you may end up with a decreased amount.
Other changes in your life or your child’s life may make a review of your child support order necessary. For example if your child remains in high school for longer than expected, your child becomes sick or disabled, or to request the removal of a medical support order that was a part of the child support order. If you have a unique situation you think may qualify for modification, you can consult an attorney to figure out if it is likely to qualify as a significant change in circumstances.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
Whatever the change in circumstances, if you think you may have grounds for a modification of a child support order, contact our experienced child support lawyers at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida, for more guidance on whether or not filing for modification is in you and your child’s best interest.