Q) After I pay my child support, I don’t even have enough money for a place to live. When my child support order was set, I was making about $300 a month more than I am now. Can I get the order changed?
A) Yes, it may be possible to get your child support order changed if there has been a significant change in your financial situation, such as a decrease in income. You will need to file a motion with the family court to modify your child support order. The court will consider factors such as your current income, your expenses, and your child’s needs in determining whether to modify the order. It may be helpful to consult with a family law attorney who can guide you through the process and represent your interests in court.
However, it is important to note that you must continue to make child support payments as ordered until the court issues a new order. Failure to make payments could result in legal consequences, such as wage garnishment or suspension of your driver’s license. If you are having difficulty making payments, you may consider speaking with the child support enforcement agency in your state to explore payment options or alternative arrangements.
It is understandable that paying child support can create financial strain, but it is important for both parents to provide for their child’s well-being. Finding a balance between meeting your financial obligations and providing for your own basic needs can be challenging, but working closely with the court and child support enforcement agency can help you find a solution that works for everyone involved.
Either parent can request a review and adjustment, if appropriate, of a child support obligation at least every 36 months, or sooner if there has been a substantial change in circumstances such as reduced income of the obligated parent or a change in medical support provisions. Check with your child support office to see if your child support obligation is in line with state guidelines and ask how to request a review.
If your case does not meet the state’s standards for review, either because the order has been reviewed within your state’s review period or the change in income is smaller than would merit an adjustment under state standards, you may still be able to petition the court for a hearing. In this case, it may be helpful to have the services of an attorney. Your local legal aid society may be able to advise you about finding low-cost counsel if you cannot afford a private attorney.
Also, a number of states have information about how to handle your case pro se (a legal term for representing yourself) to have the courts determine if your support obligation should be changed. Contact your local child support office or the clerk of the court for more information. In addition, some courts and child support offices partner with employment programs and other agencies to provide employment services to noncustodial parents who are struggling to make ends meet and support their children. Again, contact your local child support office.