A child support modification form is used to request changes to a court-ordered child support agreement, usually because a parent’s situation has changed.
Either parent can request changes to child support, visitation, or other aspects of a child custody agreement (also called a parenting plan) using a child support modification form, but there are no guarantees the modifications will be accepted by the court or child support services.
Sometimes, parents have an emergency situation that requires an immediate adjustment in child support, such as a child’s medical expenses or a parent’s sudden unemployment.
If both parents agree to a change in child support, they can complete and sign a child support modification and enact the change immediately while waiting for their court date. Keep in mind, though, that it won’t be official (and legally enforceable) until it’s approved by the court that ordered the original child support payments.
Sample Child Support Modification Letter
The following child support modification letter shows an agreement between co-parents to increase child support payments by $500 per month.
Reasons to Modify Child Support
Reasons a parent might need to modify a child support order include:
- Children are older and their needs have changed
- A parent lost their job
- The original child support order is unfair
- A parent is deployed
- Family size changes
- A parent has additional income
If you can’t afford child support payments, there’s a good chance you can make a case for reducing the monthly amount owed by providing proof of income like pay stubs or recent tax returns. However, purposely remaining unemployed or not earning enough to afford child support payments could result in serious legal consequences.
How to Modify Child Support
Laws on child support modification will vary depending on the state, so it’s important to research your state’s specific requirements.
For example, in Illinois, you can only modify child support every three years or if there is a significant change in one parent’s situation. California law, on the other hand, allows for child support to be modified at any time as long as the proposed change is greater than $50 or 20%.
To modify child support, parents must first file a petition to modify child support, then appear in court where the judge will review their case. Check your state government website for specific information on the filing process.
What happens at a child support modification hearing?
When parents appear in court, they will have to demonstrate to the judge why the current child support agreement is no longer working for them.
Parents should prepare documents (such as proof of income) to support any claims they make about their situation as it pertains to child support. Gather pay stubs, recent tax returns, and proof of any additional income (like retirement) to show your financial situation. Also, bring proof of your child(ren)’s expenses like medical bills, daycare payments, etc.
If both parties have agreed to and signed the child support modification form, the process is usually simple. If parents can’t agree on the changes, they will both need to make a case for their proposed changes and the judge will make a decision.