I can’t afford my child support. Can I lower it?

By Marissa A. Oxman, Esq.

Child support can be modified so long as the person looking to change it can prove something important has changed since the last order.

The fact that the person looking to change the order has to do the proving means the person looking to change the order has the “burden of proof.”  Having to prove that something important has changed is called proving a “material change of circumstances.”

Here are some generally accepted examples of a material change in circumstance:

  1. One parent starts makes much more or much less money;
  2. One parent has to support another child, spouse, or elderly parent;
  3. A child turned 18 or graduated high school;
  4. The children’s needs change (their school costs go up, they need a special education class; their medical expenses go up);
  5. One parent starts caring for the child more or less often;
  6. The cost of living has dramatically increased (this usually applies only where the support order is VERY old)

If you want to modify your support order, it is important to do it as soon as possible.  The Court can usually only change support starting the date that you ask the Court for the change.  So, if you wait 6 months after your income changes to ask the Court to change the order, the Court may not change your support for the 6 months you waited.  The law also requires child support be paid before any other debt (before the mortgage, credit card, or car payment).  Failure to pay child support can have serious consequences (criminal penalties, suspending a professional license, suspending a driver’s license, levying a bank account).  So, if you are having trouble making your child support payment, it is important to ask the Court to change the order as soon as possible.

If you would like to modify a child support order, you should also speak with an attorney about your income and the other parent’s income.  If you ask to lower your support, the other parent might ask that it be increased.  You will want to work with a professional to make sure the Court understands all the facts about the old and new order.

This blog is not meant to provide legal advice, and the law may have changed since it was written. Every person and every case is different. You should speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances. The attorneys at Core Law Group can help you determine whether, how much, and how fast you can change your child support order.  Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys