Can I modify an existing child support order?

| Oct 2, 2020 | Family Law

The final divorce decree spells out both parents’ financial obligations, including child support. The custodial parent will often then receive child support for the care and well-being of the children. It is separate from spousal support/alimony or perhaps other arrangements outlined in the final decree. As with other divorce arrangements, the couple can modify child support payments if it is deemed necessary.

The state typically uses a formula that combines the two parents’ income and the number of children to set a child support amount. Other factors are also weighed:

  • The financial needs of the child (including daycare, insurance and other special needs)
  • The ability of the parent to pay (there may be other children with other parents who also need support)
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the divorce

Changes in circumstances lead to modifications

The financial circumstances of a family will likely change over time. It can involve the loss of a job or a higher paying job. It can involve the increased needs of the child or changed circumstances not related to work. There may be a change in the parenting plan where one or more children switch to the home of the higher income earning parent.

The courts will need proof of the change in circumstances before agreeing to a modification. It will also look at the reason for the change in circumstance — a parent cannot quit their job in hopes of reducing their financial obligation, nor are buying expensive luxury items acceptable reasons for a change.

It’s crucial to obtain a court-ordered modification before changing or eliminating the support. The parent must pay the predetermined amount until the court says otherwise, regardless of whether there is a verbal agreement between spouses, or when the change in circumstances occurred.

Not as simple as it seems

Connecticut has guidelines for parents who wish to alter their child support obligations. It involves a lot of paperwork and financial statements that detail the change in circumstances. Using the new income total, the parent can then calculate a new amount. An attorney can help with this application process and may prove invaluable when it comes time for the hearing in front of the judge.