Can I Get More Child Support?As a parent, you can personally testify about how the pandemic has affected your household’s finances. Your grocery bill may be a little steep because your children are learning remotely and home all the time. Maybe you were one of the millions of workers whose hours were severely reduced, and it’s difficult to keep up with your child support payment.

Maybe you were also a business owner, and the global shutdown affected your ability to generate income and support your family. Whatever the reason, you realize that there may be a solution to this issue: your child support payments must increase. What are some of the options for parents who find themselves in this position?

How can I request additional child support?

Like many parents understand, child support is a court order. A family court judge uses specific guidelines to calculate what each parent should pay for child support. After the payment is calculated, neither parent can alter the terms of the child support payment without seeking the approval of the judge. This means that if you want to modify your child support order, you will have to do so by filing a motion with the court.

What is the main reason why a judge would modify a child support order?

Typically, you cannot just ask for a request for a child support order modification without a legitimate reason for doing so. The main reason a judge will consider modifying your child support order will be due to a change in your circumstances. In addition to explaining your change in circumstances for the courts, the change must be permanent, substantial, and unexpected. Seeking the guidance of your divorce or family law attorney will help you present the best case for why your child support payment needs to be altered.

What are some examples of changes in circumstances?

One of the legitimate reasons for a child support order modification is when one parent becomes unemployed or loses his or her job. A judge can understand how unemployment can affect a parent’s ability to pay their child support payment.

However, unemployment alone does not necessarily mean that the judge will approve your request for a child support order modification. The reason behind why you were unemployed will play a substantial role in whether your request will be approved. For example, if the judge discovers that you willingly quit your job instead of being furloughed, the judge may decide to deny your request for modification.

Even if the judge views your unemployment position as legitimate, the judge may request that you continue to look for a job outside of your occupation that can sustain you and your family. You may still need to prove to the judge that your unemployment status is permanent instead of temporary. One action you can take that can assist with seeking approval of your modification is to accept a lower-paying job. The judge will view this action as a legitimate reason as to why your child support payment should be increased.

Is a change in my income a legitimate reason for a child support order modification?

Another legitimate reason for a judge to approve your child support order modification is a change in your income. There are many scenarios that can represent a change in your income. You can experience a significant cut in your salary; your work hours can be significantly reduced. If you own and operate a business, you may have been forced to shut your business down or experienced a significant loss of clients.

These are the types of income changes that are outside of your control and unexpected. Again, if your change in income looks to be permanent, substantial, and unexpected, the judge will consider approval of your child support order modification.

Is my health a legitimate reason for a child support order modification?

Another legitimate reason for a change in a child support order is a change in your physical health. When your physical health changes or you experience a new disability, this change affects your ability to live your life, particularly your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

Your health condition can cause you to work fewer hours, affect how you care for your children, and affect the way you parent your children overall. To prove how your health condition or disability has impacted your ability to live and pay your child support payment, you will have to provide copies of your medical records as well as any copies of medical expenses.

What if my child’s needs change?

A change in your child’s needs can also serve as a legitimate reason for you to request a child support order modification. Parents understand that as their children grow older, their needs may increase. The same needs that your child had as a baby are not the same needs that he or she will need at five or six years old. By that time alone, the child’s needs may include transportation, daycare, additional expenses for extracurricular programs, and potentially increased medical expenses. However, you want to make sure that any changes you declare in the motion will be substantial and not temporary.

Can I request a child support order modification if my former spouse is incarcerated?

Because a parent’s ability to pay child support is significantly affected by their incarceration, the federal government established a regulation in 2016 that grants parents the right to a child support review. This regulation prohibits states from describing jail time as involuntary unemployment.

Divorced parents can trust the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates to protect their rights in child support disputes. Call today at 615-977-9370, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Franklin, Brentwood, and Columbia.