Modifying Your Child Support Order

The amount of your child support payments typically remain in effect until your child turns 18 or the support order is modified. You can have the agreement modified to fit your current financial needs -- as long as the changes are reasonable and abide by your state laws. In fact, you can even have the child support order changed on a temporary basis to get you through times of financial hardship. Learn more about altering a child support order so that you know what to do if your financial situation changes.

Work with Your Ex to Modify the Support Order

If you and your ex agree to modified your support agreement, a judge will likely honor the agreement as long as it abides by the state's laws. So, your first step should be to discuss the issue with your ex. If you both agree to the changes, put the changes in writing and take the written agreement to the court to have the judge modify your current child support order.

Ask the Court to Modify Your Child Support Order

If you and your ex can't agree on new child support terms, you do have the option to ask the court to modify your child support payments. However, you typically have to have a reason for requesting the modification before filing for the change. Some reasons that the court could increase or decrease child support payments temporarily include:

  • The paying parent is temporarily unable to make payments.
  • The parent receiving support payments has a temporary medical or financial issue that drastically lowered his or her income temporarily.
  • The child has a medical emergency.

Some reasons that the court might lower or raise child support payments permanently include:

Either parent loses his or her job.

  • Either parent switches jobs, which results in a drastic change in income.
  • Either parent remarries and the new spouse's income increases the household income significantly.
  • Either parent becomes disabled.
  • The child's needs drastically change.
  • Cost of living increases.
  • To comply with changes in child support laws.

Cost of Living Increases

It's possible to have a Cost of Living clause added to your child support agreement. This way, your child support payments automatically increase annually based on annual cost per living increases. If you don't have a clause in your current child support order, you should consider adding it to the new order. This way, you don't have to ask the court for a child support modification solely do to an increase in your cost of living.

While you can't have your child support order modified without reason, if something happens that affects your financial situation, you should consider having the order modified -- at least on a temporary basis. If you can't agree with your spouse to change your child support order, you should consider contacting a lawyer that specializes in family law as soon as possible.