Child Support Explained
Following a divorce or separation between parents, a custody arrangement must be agreed upon, which generally also involves child support. In most cases, one parent is appointed the custodial parent, meaning any children involved will live primarily with that parent. The other parent, the noncustodial parent, whom may also have custody rights, is required to make child support payment to the custodial parent. The two parents are supposed to decide and agree on an arrangement, but when parents are unable to reach an agreement, a judge may decide on an arrangement in the children’s best interests.
Child support ensures that both parents are financially responsible for the children so as to prevent all of the financial burden falling on one parent. Child support payments are made monthly to help pay for living expenses of children, including food, clothing, health care, daycare, education and extra-curricular activities. How the payments are calculated ultimately depends on the state in which you reside, but they are generally based on factors such as the parents’ income and the cost of living for the children.
Reasons to Modify Child Support
The courts will calculate in accordance with state law the amount in child support the non-custodial parent must pay each month. Once that order is given, the payments must be paid on time each month or the parent may face serious legal consequences. There is, however, a chance to modify a child support order under certain circumstances and if seen necessary. The following are some of the common reasons child support modification may be warranted.
- Change in Income: A child support order may be modified if there is a substantial change in the non-custodial parent’s income. If the parent were to lose their job or receive a pay cut resulting in a lower income, they can request a decreased child support amount. Conversely, if the parent’s income were to significantly increase, they may be subject to higher child support payments. A change in income for the custodial parent may also result in a modification to the child support order.
- Medical Problems: If the non-custodial parent were to become ill or disabled, the child support order may be temporarily changed to reflect the parent’s ability to pay. A change in a child’s medical needs can also necessitate modification to child support, such as by requiring a non-custodial parent to pay more in order to help with medical costs.
- Changes to Child Support Laws: There may be changes to state child support laws that would require the modification of a current child support order.
Modifying Child Support
A child support order can be changed in one of two ways:
- Both parents agree on the modification and go through the court to make the necessary changes.
- If both parents are not in agreement, then the parent wanting the modification must go through the court to make the request.
It’s vital to know that, regardless of the situation, you are still required to make the current child support payments until a modification request is officially approved by a judge. There may, however, be instances where child support can automatically be modified without going through court first. An example of this would be if there were changes in the cost of living that are calculated into the payments and pre-approved for change. This may depend on state laws, so it is important that you work with a child support attorney in your area. They can determine what steps will need to be taken in your case.
If you are currently going through a divorce, it can be helpful to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL who can help you understand the divorces process. They will also be able to help you understand potential child custody and child support arrangements.
Thank you to Pioletti & Pioletti Attorneys at Law for providing key insight on child custody modifications.