Personal Injury Lawyer
When a child support order becomes impossible to adhere to, due to a change in marital status, a loss of income, or a serious injury, it may be possible to change the agreement. Each parent has a right to petition the court for a modification of child support orders. For example, a parent can ask the judge to lower their payment or petition for further support. If you are considering modifying your child support order, you should consider these tips and call a child support lawyer for further advice.
Best Practices to Modify a Child Support Agreement
Act Fast – When a parent is in a situation that does not allow them to make a full child support payment, or anything at all, money in arrears will be owed. Arrears is a legal term that refers to payments that have not been paid (also known as back support). These payments cannot be reduced or forgiven in bankruptcy. Because of this, if you are struggling to pay the support payments, you should as a child support lawyer to help you modify the agreement as quickly as possible to avoid being overrun with back payments.
Stay Informed – If you are involved with child support payments, you should be aware of the laws related to the topic. Specifically, you should know what [state] considers a significant enough change to modify the orders. In general, a child support agreement must be increased or decreased by a minimum of ten percent. For example, if you owe 100 dollars per month, the agreement cannot be modified unless it will change to at least 110 dollars or 90 dollars per month. In some states, if you seek less than the 10% minimuma, you could be ordered into paying for the other parents’ lawyer.
Try to Negotiate – Before you seek to modify a child support agreement, it may be worthwhile to try and negotiate an agreed upon modification with the other parent. Mediation is a powerful tool and can save hours of time and a huge amount of money. Negotiating with the other parent is a good first step and can work; however, don’t let this go on too long.
Document All Changes – Regardless of what the change of circumstances might be, whether it be a pay cut, job loss, etc., you should document all of your financial changes. A series of paychecks that show your new salary, unemployment papers, proof of injury, and so forth should be provided to the judge.
Pay As Much As You Can – Even if you are unable to pay the full amount owed, you should try to pay what you can. By putting forth your best effort, you are showing the court that you are trying to honor the agreement. As a child support lawyer might tell you, a judge does not want to hear that you’ve been laid off and cannot pay any money to your child. Rather, by showing that you’ve paid as much as you can, a judge can view your own struggles and also see that you are trying to do the right thing.