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When is it appropriate to modify a child support order?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2022 | Family Law

Divorce is a major change for parents and children. Child support helps meet the needs of the children in a way that is fair to both parents.

Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you may encounter circumstances where your current child support order is no longer appropriate.

Changes in financial circumstances

A significant change in one parent’s financial situation may justify modification of a child support order. If the obligated parent’s income has decreased or his or her living expenses have increased, the obligated parent can file a request to have the child support order modified.

Likewise, if the obligor’s household income increases, this might be sufficient reason to increase his or her child support obligation.

Both parents should bear in mind that changes in child support are not normally retroactive. This means the obligor must continue paying the current amount until a judge approves the new child support order.

Changes in the children’s needs

As children grow, their needs change. Children’s financial needs may increase for many reasons, including:

  • Medical care
  • Dental care or orthodontia
  • Education
  • Disability support
  • Daycare

An increase in the children’s needs may justify an increase in child support payments.

Exceptions to the two-year rule

Normally, parents can not request a modification to a child support order within two years of the previous order. However, the court can make an exception when:

  • The noncustodial parent has not exercised visitation
  • The noncustodial parent has exercised more visitation than originally ordered
  • A parent has suffered an involuntary loss of income, such as termination or disability

Co-parenting successfully after divorce requires cooperation on the part of both parents. Modifying the child support order when necessary ensures that both parents contribute fairly to the child’s expenses.