After child support has been established, the amount can only be modified after a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.
There are several ways to show a substantial change in circumstances.
Number of children. Older court orders in cases with more than one child may not contain an automatic “step-down” provision to change child support after a child graduates from high school or is no longer entitled to child support.
An action may be brought in those cases to modify child support if the number of children entitled to support changes.
More recent court orders will almost always have an automatic “step down” provision to change support when the number of children entitled to support changes.
Change in Income. Another common basis for changing child support is a substantial change in income of the parties, especially the paying party. In many circumstances a change in income that caused a change in the Child Support guidelines of more than fifty dollars per month difference will justify a change in child support.
The termination of alimony is a change in income that can also trigger a recalculation of child support.
Change in Daycare. A change in daycare costs can also trigger a change in child support. Daycare is often a large component of a child support calculation. If a child no longer requires daycare, a decrease in child support may very well be justified.
Change in Health Insurance. Changes in health insurance, whether becoming more or less expensive, may also be the grounds for a recalculation of child support.
Change in Time Sharing. Finally, a change in the number of overnights that each child spends with each parent can lead to a recalculation of child support.
If child support was originally established by an Administrative Order that does not order timesharing, support can be changed by a Circuit Court after time-sharing is established.
In cases where one parent is not exercising the time-sharing that he or she promised or was awarded, a retroactive child support claim may be sought prior to the date of filing a petition.
The Mechanics. The parents may agree to change child support if the facts support a change. Financial information must be exchanged and a stipulation to change child support must be filed.
If an agreement cannot be reached quickly or the parents do not agree, a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support should be pursued.
Child support is usually modified from the date a Supplemental Petition is filed. A parent seeking to change in child support would be well advised to file a Supplemental Petition upon learning that child support might be subject to a change.
The Judge Has the Final Say. Courts will make sure that the amount of child support complies with existing guidelines. A deviation from guidelines will only be granted upon a showing that the requested deviation is in the best interests of the child.