What To Do When A Child Support Order Becomes Unsustainable
Although both parents are responsible for supporting their children, in a divorce situation, the parent who is awarded primary custody of a child may be entitled to receive child support payments from the noncustodial parent. Judges also grant child support to single parents who were never married to the child’s other parent. The primary function of these payments is to ensure that the child or children have access to the same financial quality of life they had when their parents were living together. But a support order may need to be changed when circumstances for either parent or the child change over time. At Candace M. Williams, P.C., in Gainesville, I represent parents throughout Georgia who seek to modify child support payments.
Modifying Child Support Orders And Agreements As Circumstances Change
It’s important to understand that when a judge sets the amount in a child support agreement, this amount is based on each parent’s financial circumstances as well as the child or children’s financial needs at the time the order is set. Because people’s financial situations and needs change over time, it’s important to revisit child support orders and request modifications in the event that life changes require additional support.
Sometimes, the reason behind a child support order modification is obvious, such as in cases of the loss of a job or a change in a child’s financial needs. While the reason may be simple, the modification process may not be. In some states, for example, judges will approve modification plans only after both parents agree to the new amount, while in other states, a more formal court proceeding is needed.
Whether you agree on what the new amount should be or you are locked in a contentious dispute, I can help you modify your existing plan into something that works for you, your child and the other parent.
What Are Some Reasons To Modify A Support Order?
In most cases, the need to change an existing support order is due to changes in one parent’s or the child’s circumstances. Examples include:
- Job loss or loss of a source of income
- Disability of a parent
- Incarceration of a parent
- Additional financial support owed to other children
- Remarriage of one or both parents
- New educational expenses for the child
- Additional expenses for activities
- Increased income or inheritance of one parent
I understand all the reasons why a parent may need to request modification of an order, and I have helped countless parents in Gainesville seek revised orders as a result.
You Need To Go Through The Courts To Make Changes
Even if your circumstances could impact your ability to pay the full amount indicated in a support order, it’s important to know that you are required to continue paying that amount until a judge or the court modifies your order. Do not fall into the trap of believing that it is OK to simply decrease or stop payments because you are unable to pay them at their current level. Delinquency on a child support order can result in hefty fines, imprisonment or both. If you are experiencing undue hardship and cannot make a payment and, as a result, you need help modifying an order, it’s best to reach out to an attorney right away.
Even if you are arrested and jailed and that would cause you to miss payments, it’s important to remember that unless you get express permission from a judge, you need to keep making those payments. While you are in jail, delinquent payments will continue to add up, and you will be responsible to pay back that debt. In many states, it’s not possible to discharge this kind of debt.
Enforcing Child Support Agreements
For custodial parents, not receiving child support payments can be stressful and may result in financial troubles of their own. As such, I help custodial parents enforce child support orders and collect on delinquent payments.