Can You Modify Child Support Orders?

Aug 8, 2012 by

 One of the biggest reasons why divorces can be messy affairs is the number of court orders that can be issued to ensure that any children involved are supposed to be well taken care of. Child support orders are obviously in this group, and are incredibly important to all parties involved. In fact, court-mandated child support orders can act as a form of law from the divorce forward. If an individual happens to break the terms or conditions of the order, they will be held in contempt of court and jail time becomes a strong possibility. It is not unusual that people would have questions about child support orders and how they’re determined by the courts.

There are lots of things that go into custody hearings and the dictation of child support orders. Judges will typically hear testimony from all types of witnesses, including the parents, the children involved, any social workers who may have had interaction with the family, and certainly any family friends from both sides. The court’s standard should be to do what is in the best interest of the child, and that will be determined by the presiding judge. The judge will want to first ensure the safety of the child, and beyond that, the child’s happiness will be considered to some extent. Most judges will typically award custody to the parent that has historically shown to be more responsible if there is a dispute. Likewise, the amount of time a parent has been able to dedicate to the child also comes into play. Although it’s not a court mandate, mothers tend to have an advantage in many cases.

One of the things that many people may not understand about child support orders is that once they are issued by the judge, they can be changed. Because circumstances in the household can change and different needs may arise, the court has provisions for modifying existing orders. For example, when the court determines child support amounts, they take into account the parent’s current financial situations and look at what the child might need going forward. Financial situations are always subject to change though, especially when dealing with children that are still very young and the court has the power to alter existing court orders to better fit the situation at hand.

In order to have the details of a child support order changed, one must address the court first. A modification of support order must be filed by formal request, and that process can take some time. Modifications should only be requested for legitimate reasons, and interpretation of what is legitimate is at the discretion of the presiding judge. For instance, a parent probably would not be granted a modification in order to get more money because they wanted a new car. One might be able to seek modification if the child had some sort of pressing need, like braces or a cost associated with education, but not for indirect expenses.

The thing to remember about modification of court orders is that common sense typically steers the court’s ultimate decision, and there are some requests that just won’t pass as reasonable in the eyes of the judge. Make sure yours is not one of them.


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