Child support order amounts may be raised or lowered when there is a change in financial status of either the custodial or noncustodial parent.
Child Support Order Modification
How Can a Child Support Order Be Changed?
It may be appropriate to change a child support order to ensure that the required amount is based on the parents’ current financial circumstances. A change to a support order is called a modification. Child support order amounts may be raised or lowered when there is a change in financial status of either the custodial or noncustodial parent.
The process of initiating a review of an order may differ depending on whether the custodial parent receives public assistance or whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances for either parent. If the custodial parent is on cash assistance, State Child Support (CS) agencies must review child support orders every three years. For parents not on cash assistance, orders must be reviewed at the request of either parent, as long as long as at least three years has lapsed since the last review.
CS agencies will also review a child support order outside of the three-year cycle in any case where a parent demonstrates that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances. In most States, the term means a change in income of either parent that meets a certain dollar or percentage threshold that would justify a change in the support amount.
If after the review the CS agency finds that the order meets the criteria for modification, it will work with the parents to modify it according to the State’s child support guidelines.
Who Can Ask for a Child Support Modification?
The CS agency, the custodial parent, and the noncustodial parent can request to have a child support order modified. Modifications can be used to change the amount of future support payments, not amounts of payments that were due in the past. When a support order is modified, the change is usually effective as of the date that the petition for modification was filed with the court or the CS agency.
How Will Modifying a Child Support Order Help an AFI Project Participants?
Modification of an order can help an AFI project participant in a number of ways:
A custodial parent may be able to obtain a modified child support order, adjusted upward, if the noncustodial parent’s salary has increased. The increase in child support could provide enough income to help the family leave or avoid public assistance, and to start saving to acquire an economic asset.
Noncustodial parents may ask to have their support order modified to keep current with actual earnings. Instances that would warrant a modification request include a reduction in income, believing that the order was set too high, unemployment and incarceration.
In some States, if the noncustodial parent has additional children in the household who were not considered when the original order was set, the order may be modified to consider the additional children.
If medical support (medical insurance coverage or cash medical support) is not in the current child support order, it can be added when the order is modified. Medical support provisions can be adjusted to address changes in the availability of or access to insurance coverage.
Information state CS agencies:
This is one in a series of fact sheets on asset-building, fatherhood, and child support services produced by the Assets for Independence Resource Center. For more information, visit the resource center website at www.IDAresources.org or contact the center on 1-866-778-6037 or via email at info@IDAresources.org.