Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?

Word CHILD SUPPORT composed of wooden letters.

A question we are frequently asked during this economic slowdown is whether or not child support can be changed. The answer is it can be, and the sooner the better, but if an adjustment will actually be made depends on whether you can show that something in your life has changed significantly.

The technical term for this is a “modification of child support.” The court can modify child support If either parent can prove there has been a “material change of circumstances.” There are no hard and fast rules regarding what is or is not a material change. The rule of thumb, however, is that an increase (or decrease) in income of 25% can lead to modification.

People request a modification of child support for many reasons, but the most common are losing a job (getting laid off), a young child no longer needing expensive daycare, or a child “aging out” of the child support obligation. You would think that once a child turns 18 and graduates from high school, child support stops automatically. However, if there is an earnings withholding order in place it will continue forever. The paying parent must go back to court to get an order stopping the withholding—otherwise, it literally continues without end.

If you are going to file to change child support, the earlier you do so the better. The court has the ability to modify child support retroactively, that is, back to the date the request for modification was originally filed. For example, if you file a request to modify in April, you may not get a hearing and a decision until November, but the court can modify the amount owed from April forward. This means the longer you wait after something has changed, the more you are obligated to pay even after child support is modified.

The attorneys of Jimeno & Gray, P.A. know that many people have questions about the modification of child support. We want to help you find the answers.

Give us a call to learn how we may be able to help you with your situation.