We all want to care for our children, and that includes supporting them financially. Child support is a great way to be continually involved in your child’s life, contributing to their welfare. It is too often viewed negatively. Rather than looking at it as a burden, you can see it as an opportunity to help.
Unfortunately, however, the realities of life can sometimes get in the way. Try as you might, you may find yourself unable to keep up with child support payments. This creates problems on all sides. Foremost, it puts you in a position where you cannot be there for your kids. Beyond that, your former spouse could appeal to the courts for your delinquent payments, putting you in legal trouble.
You cannot, however, simply stop paying or adjust the amount you pay. There is a process you must follow. You can work out a new agreement with your spouse and submit it to the courts. This process, however, is unrealistic for many divorced couples. They cannot work together, and they must rely on the courts to order modifications.
Before that, however, you must have a justifiable reason to make such a request. Here are some potential reasons to request a child support modification.
The Original Order Was Bad
Child support decisions should be based on the incomes of both parents. The custodial parent pays child support simply by living with and providing for the kids. The non-custodial parent covers the difference in expenses.
If you’ve always had a difficult time keeping up with child support, something has gone wrong. In theory, you shouldn’t be paying much more than when you lived with them. You can ask for your finances to be reevaluated along with the other parent’s. If there is a discrepancy, the court may be able to find it and adjust your payments accordingly.
There Has Been a Significant Change
Life is always moving forward, and with that movement comes changes. If either you or your former spouse has experienced a major change, child support payments can be altered.
Requesting a modification due to occupational changes can be tricky. You must demonstrate that the changes were out of your control. Being demoted or laid off may be just cause for a modification, but only if it wasn’t your fault. If you were fired because of poor performance, chose to switch to a lower-paying job, or accepted a demotion when you could have kept your original position, you may not be eligible for a modification.
The changes must also be semi-permanent. Imagine a server who lost their job during the pandemic. As the city started to reopen, all the surrounding waiting jobs were quickly filled. Now they’re stuck, looking for work, and lacking many of the skills needed to start a new career. This person could reasonably request a child support alteration.
Alternatively, imagine a highly educated person in a specialized field with many opportunities. Even if this person were laid off through no fault of their own, there is a high likelihood that they will secure a new position soon. Keeping up with child support could be hard on them for a while, but ultimately, the court may see their unemployment as only temporary and deny their request.
Job changes also apply to the custodial parent. Remember, child support is based on the income of each adult. If they are laid off, they may be able to ask for more money in support. However, if they receive a higher-paying job, you may be able to use this promotion to ask that your payments be lowered.
New Baby or New Support Order
Courts are interested in how many children you have and how many you support. The child support formulas are centered around these facts. If you have a new baby, or if you are othered to pay support for another child, this changes your child-to-income ratio. It could be cause for a reasonable child support modification request.
Your Ex Remarries
This life change is technical, but it could work in your favor. Generally, courts regard the incomes of individual spouses as a unified amount. Both spouses are assumed to contribute to the family, and their combined incomes become a “marital asset.” If your spouse remarries, their income technically increases, as their spouse’s income is commingled with their own. If your spouse remarries, this might be a justifiable reason to request a child support modification.
Your Level of Custody Changes
Child support is not only based on your income, but it is also determined by the amount of time you have the kids. The conclusion is that the more time you possess the children, the more of your income goes to support them. Your child support payments are meant to cover the time you are not directly spending your income on them.
If custody changes and you have the kids more often, you would therefore spend more of your income on them. Obviously, this means that you don’t need to spend as much to support them when you aren’t around. If you find yourself having the kids more often, you may be able to have your child support payments lowered.
Prison or Jail
Incarceration impacts every facet of someone’s life. When someone goes to jail, their source of income is cut off. They may be able to make a little money doing odd jobs while inside, but the amount is menial. Chances are, if you’re convicted of a crime and sent to jail, you will have no ability to pay for any bills, much less child support.
Filing for Child Support Modifications in Missouri
To request a modification, you must file a Motion to Modify Child Support with the courts. You should seek legal representation before you file. Your attorney can go over your paperwork, making sure that everything is complete. Moreover, they can help explain your situation, demonstrating why a modification is necessary and JUSTIFIABLE.
If you need help altering your child support payments, contact our firm. Through a free consultation, we can listen to your situation and help offer guidance. You can reach us online or call us at. (636) 400-1177.