In many divorces, one parent is typically required to pay child support to the other parent. Child support is usually paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent in order to help pay for items the child needs as they grow up, such as clothes, school, food, etc.
The amount of child support you pay is determined by the court, and the amount will depend on what state you live in. For example, some states typically go by a standard percentage rate. In this case, the noncustodial parent will be forced to pay a specific amount of their monthly net income in child support payments, roughly 23-50 percent, depending on state and number of children involved. Other states use a balanced income method, in which the court calculates the incomes of both parents and determines if there is a significant difference. For example, if one parent makes twice as much money as the other parent, then that parent would have to pay some amount of child support. However, if the court finds that both parents make the same amount of money (or close to it), the court may rule that child support is unnecessary, as the child will have the same living conditions no matter which parent he or she is with.
Most of the time, there is nothing you can do about the amount of money you need to pay; however, there are exceptions. If you need to lower your child support payments, the following information will teach you how you can do so.
Know what constitutes a modification.
It’s important to understand that the court will not lower or modify your child support payments simply because you want them to. Instead, you need to have a valid reason, and there are only certain instances where a court will rule in your favor. For example, in order to lower child support payments, you will need to:
- Prove that you have received a significant change in income due to job loss, relocation, economy, or illness
- Prove that the child spends more than 50 percent of his or her time with you instead of the custodial parent
- Prove that the child is no longer in school or is incarcerated
- Prove that the child is legally emancipated from both parents
- Prove that the custodial parent is not using the money to care for the children
If you can prove any of the above situations, then you’ll want to file a child support payment modification.
Do the paperwork yourself.
Instead of hiring a family or divorce lawyer to submit a child support payment modification on your behalf, you have the option of submitting the paperwork on your own. You can access the paperwork you need at your local courthouse, or depending on where you live, you may be able to access the paperwork online too.
When you have the paperwork, make sure you fill out every item completely. Then, you’ll want to include your proof as to why you need a modification. Submit the file however your local government requests, whether in person, via US mail, or electronically. You will be contacted with either a hearing date or a general ruling.
Hire a divorce or family law attorney.
If you would prefer that a professional handle your claim, then it’s best to hire a divorce or family law attorney. These professionals have more experience with filing child support payment modifications, and they’ll be more readily available to help you with the process. Plus, they may be able to warn you upfront if you have a strong claim or not. If they think you’ll be denied a modification, then you may not want to waste your time and your money. Using a professional takes the headache out of all the paperwork, and it ensures that everything you need is completed on time and in the right way, giving you a higher chance of success.
No matter how you lower your payments, you want to know that once the court has approved your claim, you need to notify the custodial parent. Keep in mind that they make try to take legal action against you for lowering the payments, so be prepared for the legal case and any repercussions.