Every parent is responsible for contributing financially to meet the needs of their children. When parents live separately, one parent typically pays the other child support.
Child support is an enforceable legal obligation ordered by a court. Complying with a child support order is not optional; parents must pay even if they are experiencing hardship or loss. However, courts sometimes will adjust a child support order if circumstances substantially change for either the parents or children.
If you believe you need more child support—or if you are having trouble paying what you owe—contact a Red Bank child support modification lawyer. A knowledgeable child support attorney could review your situation and discuss your legal options.
Sometimes a parent might experience hardships like a health problem or job loss. They might ask the co-parent if they could skip a payment or pay a little less, and the co-parent might agree. However, technically this would be a violation of the court order.
If the parents agree a change in the child support amount is appropriate, they could develop a new child support agreement together. A seasoned Red Bank child support modification attorney could help them draft the agreement or review it before they submit it to the court.
Parents should keep in mind that State Guidelines determine the minimum child support payment, and a court is unlikely to approve an agreement that calls for a smaller payment, even if both parents agree. A judge will usually approve a child support modification both parents agree on if it complies with the state’s guidelines and meets the child’s best interests.
Children’s needs, desires, and activities change as they get older. A child support arrangement that worked when children were not old enough for school is not likely to be adequate when they are teenagers. Judges recognize this and will usually hear a request to modify child support upon a parent’s request.
However, if the court issued the most recent child support order less than two years ago, the judge would consider a new request only if the requesting parent could show a substantial change in circumstances. A court might find the following events or developments substantial:
In addition, if the amount the child support guidelines require varies by more than 15 percent from the current child support payment, the courts may consider modification.
A proactive lawyer in Red Bank could review the child support agreement and advise whether the 15 percent variance rule would justify a modification. If not, a skilled attorney could assess whether any changes in circumstances are substantial enough that a court might consider modifying the agreement.
When a judge considers a child support modification request, they evaluate it according to whether the modification serves the children’s best interests. Experienced legal counsel could explain the factors a court is likely to consider when making the best interests determination.
Some people believe that the higher the support payment, the more it supports the children’s best interests. However, courts look at other factors, such as the:
If a parent wants to take a less stressful, lower-paying job to spend more quality time with their child, a court might consider such a decision to be supportive of the child’s best interests. The judge might lower a child support payment to allow a parent to prioritize time with the child over a higher salary.
Things change as time passes, and child support sometimes needs to change, too. If you want to modify your child support arrangement, or if your co-parent seeks a modification over your objection, speak with a local attorney right away.
A Red Bank child support modification lawyer could review your situation, discuss your goals, and pursue the legal options that achieve your desired outcome. Schedule a consultation with a committed legal professional today.