Whether you’re the spouse paying alimony and child support to your ex, or the one receiving it, there may come a time when you find the numbers you had decided on are no longer feasible and need an update. Here’s a quick guide to how you can modify child support payments – upward or downward, depending on your needs.
Asking for more
At the time of your divorce settlement, you made certain assumptions on likely expenses and how much help you would need from your ex by way of child support. The reality of life after divorce can often be far removed from what you had imagined and you may well find yourself hit with bigger bills and more expenses, especially if you are the primary caregiver for your child. Whether you simply discover that expenses are higher, or whether rising costs or a change of school or after-school activities have seen the cost of bringing up your child go up, you may need to reach out for some help. In some cases, you might find yourself out of work or facing a dip in your business as a consultant or freelancer and need your child support payments to go up.
Dealing with unexpected layoffs or pay cuts
With an economy that’s less than perfect, a lot of businesses are cutting back on raises and promotions. If you’re divorced and find yourself in the unfortunate position of having your pay cut, or are unlucky and find yourself laid off, then there may be an immediate need to modify your child support payments. Failure to do so will result in your missed payments as being marked as arrears that you will need to pay up at a future date. Child support orders cannot be modified retroactively beyond the date that you file for your modification with the court.
How to make changes to the payments
First off, you will need to provide proof of the changed circumstances. If you have lost your job or are drawing a lower income, this is easily proven with necessary documentation. If you have had to cut back on work due to health issues, medical documents backing this up will be needed. For additional expenses, you will need to prove that the added costs are unavoidable or absolutely necessary for the good of your child.
Once you are sure you have the supporting documents ready, file a Request for Order (RFO) with an Income and Expense Declaration (needs vary by state). Remember, exceptions to this are lump sum alimony payments or property division. These cannot be modified or added to once they are agreed upon.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.