When a couple that shares a child divorces, the court may order the non-custodial parent to make child support payments to the custodial parent. Child support payments are meant to cover the child’s food, clothing, healthcare and other needs.
A child support order is never cast in stone. Either party can petition the court for child support modification should there be a substantial change in circumstance.
Here are two questions that can inform the decision to modify an existing support order.
Have the child’s needs changed?
As children grow, their needs are definitely going to change. As such, their expenses too will change from time to time. For instance, a child support order that factored in daycare needs for your preschooler may no longer be applicable when the child is in middle school. The rise of healthcare needs like dental and optical care may also prompt the need to review and modify an existing child support order.
Has your income changed?
If a parent loses their source of income, they may be unable to fulfill their child support obligations. In this case, they may consider petitioning the court to consider a temporary modification of the child support order until they can find work. On the other hand, if the parent experiences a significant rise in income, the custodial parent may petition the court to modify the support order upwards.
Incarceration too can eliminate a parent’s ability to earn an income and fulfill their child support obligation. The 2016 federal rule, in realization of this, grants incarcerated parents with child support orders the right to petition the family court for a review and modification of the existing order.
A child support order is a binding decree that must be honored by both parties. Find out how you can handle a child support modification petition should you experience a substantial change in your circumstances.