Modifying a Child Support Order

Modifying a child support order is the process through which certain aspects of a previously issued child support order are changed, and a new child support order is created. There are two main reasons for modifying a child support order:


1. Modifying the $ amount of child support owed (including alimony and cash-medical support)


Depending on the circumstances, the amount of child support that is owed can be decreased or increased. Valid reasons to modify the amount of child support owed may include, but are not limited to the following:


  • a substantial change in financial circumstances, typically meaning a 20% change in one's gross income, at least 3 YEARS after the child support order was entered or last modified

  • a change in employment status since the original order was entered; or

  • becoming diagnosed with a physical or mental disability that affects the amount of income one can earn since the original order was entered


2. Removing a non-minor child(s) from a child support order


If you have multiple children on a child support order and one of them has turned the age of 18 or has graduated from high school, you will likely have to modify the order to stop paying child support for that non-minor child(s).


If all children on the child support order have turned the age of 18 or have graduated high school, you may be able to terminate the child support order – but only if you do not owe any past-due child support. The only exception would be if your child has a disability and needs additional support.


IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION:


  • A child support order can be appealed within 30 days of its being entered without necessarily having to show proof of a substantial change in financial circumstances. This is done though filing a motion to reconsider

  • The amount one owes in child support is calculated purely based on one's income. Therefore, an change in the amount of expenses related to raising and caring for a child will likely NOT serve as a reason to modify a child support order

  • A modification of a child support order will ONLY affect payments owed AFTER the order is issued

  • Generally speaking, it is often much more difficult to modify past-due child support (arrears) than it is to modify current child support. Depending on your situation, there may be certain options you can pursue, including:

  • Project Clean Slate

  • a payment plan with HFS, requiring the parent to pay a certain amount of child support over a certain period to remove the debt owed; or

  • both you and the other parent can potentially sign an agreed zero order for past-due child support