As part of divorce proceedings, or in a child custody decision, a judge can order one parent to pay the other parent child support. The amount of child support required depends on the number of children, the physical custody arrangement, and each parent’s gross monthly income.
Modification of Child Support
Child support amounts can change; they are not permanent. Child support can be modified in three situations:
- Change in Income: if the parent responsible for paying child support experiences a change in income of 20 percent or more (up or down), then either party can request at any time that the court modify the amount of child support. Common causes of changes in income include losing a job or getting a promotion. Note, however, that quitting a job or being fired may not be grounds for a reduction in support.
- Passing of 3 Years: the court must review a child support amount at least every 3 years, if a parent requests the court to review the amount. Whether the court decides to modify the amount will depend on any changes in income or other relevant circumstances.
- Other Changed Circumstances: a parent can also ask the court to modify the amount of child support if other changes in circumstances occur. For example, a change in custody might be cause for changing the amount.
Before filing a motion to modify child support, parents should attempt to work out an agreement beforehand and file a stipulation to modify the amount. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, then a parent can file a motion with the court to modify the amount. The court may award attorney fees if the responding parent resists working with the other parent to modify the amount without any reasonable justification.