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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does Your Child Support Order Need To Be Modified?

Child support is commonly known as a court-ordered amount of
money that a non-custodial parent must pay to the other parent to compensate for a certain amount of a child’s expenses. There is no doubt that children are entitled to be supported by their parents in the same way they would have been had the parents not separated. However, the laws of Mississippi are specific regarding how child support obligations are determined and whether or not an increase or decrease in the amount is warranted. Therefore, a lawyer who specializes
in family law will be most helpful in assisting you in seeking a modification of child support.

It's important to know that parties cannot agree between
themselves to alter an existing child support order. Court orders on child
support can be modified only by subsequent court orders. Modifications to child support orders are generally granted where material, significant and unexpected changes in circumstances have occurred. These changes can be brought before the court in an attempt to increase or decrease the child support obligation. It is commonly argued that a change in circumstances has occurred where the paying parent's income has substantially increased. For example, if a parent receives a higher paying job, a substantial promotion, or an inheritance, he or she could be expected to pay a new and higher child support amount. However, this factor alone may not be enough for the court to increase the child support amount. In addition, changes in a child’s expenses, such as high medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance, might necessitate a modification of child support. Expenses related to childcare, summer camps or private schools might also be a basis for seeking higher support levels, especially if private schools or summer camps were part of the family’s lifestyle before the separation or divorce.

Changes in the parenting plan may necessitate a downward modification in child support. For example, if a child goes to live with the non-custodial parent on a long-term basis, the court may find justification in
terminating or significantly reducing the amount of child support. Also, a downward modification may be available if one parent experiences an involuntary loss of employment or becomes disabled. However, it should be noted that voluntarily quitting a job cannot be used to justify a reduction in child support. Similarly, temporary periods of unemployment for parents who are seasonally employed are generally not considered unexpected, especially if the nature of this employment was taken into consideration when the amount of child support was originally determined.
There are many other circumstances and situations that may
justify modification of a child support order. Therefore, it is best to seek
the assistance of a qualified lawyer if you need your current child support
order modified.