What is a Child Support Modification?
When parents get a divorce, they are both still responsible for providing for the child financially. If the child primarily lives with one parent, the other one will often pay child support payments to assist with basic necessity expenses such as housing, food, health care, clothing, education, and transportation. Each state uses different calculations for figuring out the amount of child support payment, but, in general, guidelines are based on the number of children, the custody arrangement, that payor’s income, and certain health care expenses.
Because things change, such as the needs of a child or an increase or decrease in the paying parent’s income, sometimes the current child support order needs to change. The parent that experiences a change in living or financial circumstances can request child support modifications. A modification must be approved by the same court that ordered the original support agreement, and regular payments must be made until the modification is approved.
Each state is different in regard to modification laws. For example, in Illinois, a custodial parent can request a modification every three years without needing to prove a substantial change in life situations. In Florida, modification can be requested any time a change is greater than 15% or $50.However, in other states, modifications are limited and require a greater change in circumstances.
What is a Child Support Modification used for?
A child support modification form is used when there are changes in the life of one or both of the parents that either make it difficult to pay the original child support payments or require a higher support amount. If parents agree on the change, they can write up a child support modification agreement and then submit it to the court for approval. If they do not agree, one parent can fill out a court form to submit a modification request. There will then be a court date assigned to review the situation and to grant or deny child support changes.
Why should you use a Child Support Modification?
Child support is ordered by the court, and not paying it has legal ramifications. To request any modification, it must also be approved by the court. Filling out a child support modification form is the legal route. Even when parents decide on their own on an agreeable modification, the court must approve it as it must be in line with what is best for the child.
A parent may also request a review of the current child support agreement, if necessary. If situations change, and a modification is not requested or approved, the payor can face consequences, such as wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, a warrant for arrest, property liens or withholding of tax refunds if court-ordered payments are not made.
How to write a Child Support Modification?
There are court forms that contain all the necessary information to request child support modification. However, parents can also fill out their own modification. In this situation, parents should ensure there are certain elements that are included as it will be reviewed by a judge in court and must be legally sound. A good child support modification should include:
Effective dates: It is essential to fill in the correct date the modification was requested or agreed upon, as some states only allow modification requests after a certain amount of time has passed after the last support order.
Names of each parent and roles in child support: List the names of each parent and if they are the receiver or payor of child support payments.
Children information: Include all minor children and their birthdates.
Child support information: This is the modified amount each parent agrees upon. It should include the specific amount and the date it must be paid by. It should also state that the arrangement is not legally binding until approved by the court.
Tuition expenses, if applicable: This outlines how the parents will divide school-related expenses.
Medical insurance: This states who is responsible for medical insurance for each child.
Changes in circumstances: If parents cannot agree to a modification, the requesting parent should outline what changes have occurred that require a change in payment so the judge can review.
Signatures: Both parents should sign and date, and there should also be witness signatures as well.