Child Support Modification: Changing Child Support After a Change in Income
UPDATED: July 14, 2011
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Raising children in two separate households is tough for both parents, whether you receive child support or are required to pay. In most states, the income of each parent is considered when calculating child support payments. If your income changes, the amount of support you pay or receive may also need to change accordingly. Be aware, though, that there are certain requirements that must be met before the amount of support is changed.
First, the change must have a substantial effect on the child support amount. The court generally won't make small changes.
The second important consideration is whether your income was decreased voluntarily. If you requested that your hours be reduced, if you decided to change professions and now you earn less, or if you were fired for cause, your income change will be considered voluntary and the support amount won't be changed. An involuntary income change, on the other hand, such as being laid-off or taking an unpaid sick leave can result in a reduced child support amount.
There are other things you should keep in mind. Remember that the other parent's income may also have changed, and many states consider the income of both parents when setting child support. Also, the parent receiving the request for a change may respond with a request for a change in visitation. If the change is in the best interests of the child, the court may modify the visitation schedule, which could cause the support to change in the opposite direction from what you requested.
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: It's always best to get the advice of a lawyer who is familiar with the court in your area before requesting child support changes. If the change in support you seek isn't significant enough or needed enough to warrant the expense of asking a lawyer's advice, think carefully before making such a request.