When the court confirms a child custody or child support agreement, it is not set in stone, especially in cases involving small children.
The needs of children change over time, and the parent’s financial circumstances may change as well. When this happens, either parent has the right to request a modification to the child support agreement.
Qualifying substantial changes
Some changes that may qualify you for child support modification include:
- When a child turns 18, the obligation to pay child support often no longer applies.
- A sudden change in a child’s needs may warrant modification. For example, additional medical needs could increase support, whereas a decrease in needs, such as no more daycare payments, could decrease support.
- The custody agreement changes.
- One parent has a significant increase or decrease in income. Any loss of income must be through no fault of the parent.
- The child begins receiving state benefits.
Some reasons, such as filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy or voluntarily losing income, do not qualify for a child support modification.
How modification works
To request a modification, you must wait three years from the original agreement unless you have a qualifying reason. If the court grants a hearing, you must show adequate documentation to prove that you need a modification of a support agreement. Under some circumstances, you may not need a modification to end child support for a child that turns 18. However, if your child is still in high school at 18, you will continue to make payments until the child graduates or turns 20.
Sometimes parents can reach agreements without the interference of the court, but if you already have a court-mandated agreement, you would likely benefit from making official modifications.