How to Modify A Child Support Order

judge behind child support desk sign
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In most states, a child support order is made based on the income produced by both parents, the needs of the child and other relevant matters. If there is a material change of circumstance (for example, if you lose your job or if your ex-spouse has an increase in salary), your existing child support order can be modified.

Steps Involved in the Modification of a Child Support Order

Below are the steps normally involved in modifying a child support order.

Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: Depends on the circumstances of the case

Here's How:

  1. Determine whether a change in circumstances has occurred and a modification is called for. In most states modifying a child support order requires proof that either the parent’s employment status has changed or that there has been a change in the status of the children. For instance, the child now requires expensive medical care or the child is now living with the other parent. Whatever the change of circumstance, it must be great enough to render the original child support order inadequate.
  2. Gather evidence and document any proof you have that a change of circumstance has taken place. For example, if you have lost your job, obtain a statement from your former employer. If your child is now requiring expensive medical care, keep copies of all medical bills.
  3. Some courts utilize standardized forms for modification of a child support order requests. Contact your local court for more information. For instance, sometimes the request is called a "petition" for modification or a "motion" for modification, etc. Also, there may be supporting forms that must be used, such as an affidavit regarding your financial matters or a financial worksheet. Finally, you may have to file several copies of your documents with the court - the clerk of the court will "stamp" the copies and give them back to you to serve to ​the other parent.
  4. File the documents with the appropriate court. Some states have a general trial court for all civil actions while other states have a separate family court. Be sure you've done your research and are filing your modification in the proper court.
  5. Serve a copy of the modification form on the other parent. If you file for a modification, it is your responsibility to serve copies of the motion or petition on the other parent and provide a copy to the court clerk. Speak with your court clerk for information about who should serve the other parent. Each district has its own rules as far as the proper method of serving a court motion or petition.
  6. Complete and return a proof of service to the court clerk. A proof of service is a standard form used in the courts where the person who completed the service attests that the copies of the court documents were in fact served upon the other parent.

Tips for Applying for Modification of Child Support

  • If you petition the courts for modification pro se, it is always best to consult with an attorney to make sure you are taking the proper steps
  • The courts will only consider, “the best interest of the child.” If your motivation for requesting a modification of a child support order is to reduce the amount you pay or increase the amount you receive for your own best interests, think twice before moving forward.

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