What Can I Do If My Child Support is Too High?
Being a parent is already a tough job. However, co-parenting with somebody else makes it even more complicated. Adding child support issues can make parenting tasks even more sensitive.
Child support calculations are designed as a baseline level of support that can be applied across all cases. However, we understand that no situation can be considered “typical.”
So, what happens if you have a change in your financial situation or have to give more support in other areas that you didn’t anticipate? This is one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients, so we decided to give you more information.
Understanding the Basics of Child Support
Each state will vary on how child support is calculated. Some states use an approach that calculates the amount of time spent with either parent. Other states that have custody agreements can identify the amount owed based on specific factors, including the wages each parent makes.
Standard calculations may apply to you. However, many court agreements stipulate payments that can vary based on your personal situation. You should understand what is written in your current agreement to identify how to adjust your support.
Changes to Your Finances
When your child support order was finalized, it was based on a set of assumptions about your income and other factors. However, if you change or lose a job, you might find it difficult or even impossible to meet the previous agreement. Of course, not making payments could land you in hot water. It is crucial to act immediately if your situation has changed.
Open Discussions With Your Ex
One of the first things that you should do is start a dialogue with the other parent. You can explain the situation and see if they would be amenable to changing or lowering the support you provide. This can be one of the best approaches if you have a strong co-parenting relationship with the other parent.
Be upfront about the difficulties you’re facing and why you feel that support should be lowered. Often, the other parent will have better knowledge than a judge about your situation and how you’ve been caring for your child.
However, this approach can also be challenging to negotiate. When the relationship is strained or the other parent doesn’t believe you, this may start a disagreement or argument.
While you can begin a conversation, make sure that you remain calm and end it professionally if the discussion starts to get more tense or hostile. You may decide that you can resume the talk after a cooling-off period, but there are other options if that is not possible.
Seek a Modification to the Support Order
If the other parent does not agree to lower the child support, it doesn’t mean that you are out of luck. Instead, you can ask the court to have the existing order modified. A judge will listen to your case during the hearing and determine if an order should be changed.
Be aware that bringing your case in front of a judge does not guarantee that your support will be lowered. Be sure to have all of your financial paperwork in order so that a judge can quickly review your documents.
Working With an Attorney
Of course, in many situations, you will find that hiring an attorney is the best action that you can take to help you get a modification to your existing support order. Attorneys are familiar with the local court system and can give you the best odds of securing the most realistic child support order.
Hiring an attorney often results in clients getting amounts that are lower than they had initially expected. This added layer of protection can help bolster your confidence that you’re supporting your children appropriately.
If you believe that you’re paying too much for child support, an experienced child support attorney can help you seek a modification.