Parents are required to comply with the terms of a child support order once it has been finalized in court. However, the terms of the child support order are not set in stone.
Either parent is allowed to request a modification of the child support order when he or she believes the child support payments need to be increased or decreased. Here’s what parents should know about child support modifications:
Requesting A Child Support Modification Due to Changed Circumstances
The court will approve a modification request when it is proven that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the child support order was issued. For example, child support payments are calculated based on each parent’s income. When one parent’s income drastically changes, the child support payments may need to be adjusted as well. If the parent paying child support received a pay cut, they may no longer be able to afford the current child support payments. If they received a huge raise, on the other hand, the parent that receives child support could ask the court to increase the monthly payments.
Another example of when it is appropriate to modify a child support order is when one parent welcomes another child. For instance, if the parent that is paying child support has a baby, she may need to lower child support payments so she can afford to raise her new child as well.
These are just a few examples of when a modification can be requested because of changed circumstances. It’s best to speak with an attorney to determine if a change in your circumstances is significant enough to warrant a modification of a child support order.
Child Support Guidelines & Modifications
The state of Indiana has established certain guidelines that family law judges must generally follow to calculate child support payments. These guidelines ask the judge to consider many factors, including each parent’s weekly gross income, the child custody agreement, and the number of children involved. However, the law does not require family law judges to follow these guidelines in every child support case. Judges are allowed to deviate from the guidelines as they see fit. But, if a judge deviates too far from the guidelines, either parent could request a modification.
A modification can be requested when the child support payments that have been ordered differ by more than 20% from the amount that would have been ordered if the judge used the child support guidelines. For instance, let’s say the judge orders the father to pay $1,000 in child support to the child’s mother every month. The father realizes that if the judge had followed the state’s guidelines, he would have only been ordered to pay $700 per month. Since the amount ordered differs by more than 20% from the amount calculated using the guidelines, the father can request a modification.
How Long Must Parents Wait to Request a Modification?
Parents cannot immediately request a modification if they are unhappy with the terms ordered by the court. In fact, the court will not allow parents to request a modification unless it has been at least one year since the child support order was issued.
It’s important to note that the modification does not take effect until the court has approved it. This means a parent cannot start making lower payments simply because he has submitted a request to reduce the monthly child support payments. If the modification has not been approved yet, both parents must continue to comply with the terms of the existing court order.
At the same time, if a modification is granted, the modification of support is generally imposed retroactive to the date when the request for modification was filed. If you have ultimately overpaid support, you will receive a credit against future payments. If your support is increased, you will have an arrearage that may be due in a lump sum, although it is more common for an arrearage to be paid as excess support over some reasonable period of time. If you have been receiving support and the amount is ultimately reduced, you will owe a refund.
Are you interested in modifying a child support order or responding to a request for modification? If so, let our experienced family law attorneys help. We will work tirelessly to advocate your position to the court. Contact The Nice Law Firm at 317-269-7311 to schedule a consultation regarding your needs.