When a couple has a child together – be they married or not – both parents are legally obligated to provide financial support. Child support orders are the legal manifestation of that obligation, and they outline how much should be paid (generally on a monthly basis). Yet, often, these orders are set up when a child is young, or when a couple first divorces. What happens when life circumstances change?
When the Needs of a Child Have Changed
Children are constantly growing, changing, and evolving. It only makes sense that their needs change, too. Yet not all changes constitute a basis for a modification to a child support order. Generally, the shift in needs must be fairly significant. For example, if a child is accepted to an elite educational program, the receiving parent may seek a modification to help cover the tuition. Likewise, if a child is diagnosed with a medical condition or illness and needs extensive medical treatment, a modification may be requested..
When a Supporting Parent's Circumstances Have Changed
Supporting parents are not immune to significant life changes. They may become disabled because of an accident or an illness, be laid off of work, lose their business, or suffer some other ill fate that negatively affects their income. If significant enough to impede their ability to pay the ordered child support amount, supporting parents should seek modification. It is critical that the parent do this at the very first sign of trouble since failure to pay may result in serious consequences, including jail time....