How Do I Change My Child Support Payment?
Updated December 16, 2023
We are often asked “How do I change my child support payment?”
The short answer is that there is no automatic recalculation of child support, you have to file a Motion for Modification.
Reasons to Seek a Change in Child Support
Child support is a legal obligation that ensures both parents contribute financially to the upbringing of their child. It is intended to cover the costs of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare. The amount of child support is typically determined based on various factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children involved, and the custody arrangement.
The purpose of child support is to ensure that children have access to the same standard of living they would have had if their parents had stayed together. It is designed to provide financial stability and support for the child’s well-being. However, there are instances where the initial child support order may no longer be appropriate or fair, leading parents to seek a change in child support.
Circumstances can change over time, such as a significant change in income, a change in custody arrangements, or an increase in the child’s needs. It’s important to understand the reasons and legal considerations for seeking a modification in child support before proceeding.
Legal Considerations When Seeking a Change in Child Support
Before embarking on the journey to seek a change in child support, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the legal considerations. Connecticut’s laws and guidelines regarding child support modification are complex, so it’s important to consult with a family law attorney who can explain things in the context of your specific situation.
One of the primary legal considerations is demonstrating a substantial change in circumstances. This means that the change must be significant enough to warrant a modification in child support. For example, a minor increase or decrease in income may not be sufficient to justify a change. The court will typically require proof of a substantial and ongoing change that directly affects the ability to pay or the child’s needs.
Additionally, it’s important to understand the burden of proof. As the parent seeking a modification, it is your responsibility to provide evidence supporting your request. This may include financial records, pay stubs, tax returns, medical bills, and any documentation that demonstrates the change in circumstances. Having a thorough understanding of the legal requirements and the necessary documentation will help strengthen your case.
Connecticut Child Support Guidelines
In “How Is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?” we learned that the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines do not currently provide a mechanism for adjusting or reevaluating child support. In order to modify a child support order, a party files a Motion for Modification with the court.
Motion to Modify Child Support
Again, the parent who wants to change (or “modify”) an existing child support order must show a “substantial change in circumstances.”
Examples of a Substantial Change in Circumstances for Child Support Changes
Some examples of changes that might justify modification would be:
- an increase (or decrease) in one parent’s income
- an increased need for support
- or a permanent change parenting plan
Any changes to a parenting plan must be in the child’s best interests.
Definition of “Substantial”
If the difference between an existing award and the amount determined by a new analysis and application of the current guidelines varies by more than 15%, it will generally be considered “substantial.” However, this isn’t automatic, and won’t result in a change in the child support order in every situation.
Agreement to Modify Child Support
Parents can agree between themselves to a lesser or higher amount of child support, or when a Judge decides that the modification is appropriate. In both cases, the modification needs to be in the best interests of the child.
Even Agreements to Modify Need to Be Court Orders
Parents should consult with experienced family law counsel before agreeing to any changes to child support — an agreement between parents to modify is not a binding court order until it is entered and ruled upon by a court. In the meantime, the original court order on child support stands.
End of Child Support
Under most circumstances, child support is paid until a child turns 18. When a child has not graduated from high school by age 18, child support payments typically continue until the earlier of the child’s (1) graduation from high school or (2) 19th birthday, whichever comes first.
In Connecticut the support obligation normally continues until a child who has finished high school turns 18, or until a full-time high school student completes twelfth grade or turns 19, whichever occurs first.
College and Post Secondary Support
Connecticut courts may also order a parent to contribute to expenses for a child between the ages of 18 and 23 who is a full-time student at a “post-secondary school” like college or a similar type of educational program. This is done via an “Educational Support Order.” Click here to learn more.
Common Challenges in Changing Child Support
Seeking a change in child support can come with its fair share of challenges. It’s important to anticipate and prepare for these challenges to ensure a smooth and successful process. Here are some common challenges you may encounter and tips on how to overcome them:
1. Resistance from the other parent: The other parent may resist your request for a child support modification, leading to potential conflicts or disagreements. It’s important to approach negotiations or court proceedings with a willingness to find a fair resolution and to maintain open lines of communication.
2. Lack of evidence: Insufficient or weak evidence can weaken your case. Ensure you gather all relevant documentation and present it in a clear and organized manner. If necessary, consult with a lawyer to determine what additional evidence may strengthen your case.
3. Delays in court proceedings: Court proceedings can sometimes be lengthy, leading to delays in resolving your child support modification case. Patience is key in these situations. Keep track of important deadlines and follow up with your lawyer or the court if necessary.
4. Emotional stress: Dealing with child support issues can be emotionally challenging. It’s important to seek support from friends, family, or counselors to help you navigate the emotional aspects of the process. Taking care of your emotional well-being will help you stay focused and make informed decisions.
5. Non-compliance with court orders: After a modification is granted, it is crucial to comply with the new child support order. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences. Ensure you understand the terms of the new order and make the necessary arrangements to comply with it.
By being prepared, proactive, and seeking professional advice, you can overcome these challenges and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in your child support modification case.
If you would like to change child support or anything else in your current orders, you can learn more about how that works here. As always, if you have questions or want to learn more about post judgment motions that might work in your specific situation, please contact us here.