How to Request Child Support Modification

Child Support Payments How to Request Child Support Modification

How to Request Child Support Modification Easily

Who doesn’t want to give their child a good life? But life is full of surprises, and that includes surprise expenses or even financial windfalls.

If you receive or pay child support, a modification may be in order if your expenses increase substantially or your income decreases. Keep reading to learn how you can ask for a modification in your support payments.

Reasons You Could Request Modification

First, let's get one thing clear: You can't request a change in the support you pay or receive because you want a new house. The request for modification is a formal court order that has to be justified by the parent making the request. Always remember that the support money is there for the child's benefit; not because either parent wants more income.

Qualifying Circumstances for a Modification

The parent who wants to change the arrangement has to demonstrate to a judge that their circumstances have substantially changed. These are some acceptable reasons. They must be permanent changes to be considered.

  • Major salary increase
  • Job loss or layoff
  • Child's needs have changed (medical or educational expenses)
  • Paying parent has additional children to support

A temporary boost in income, such as a year-end or annual bonus, does not qualify as a permanent—it's a once-a-year event. The court probably took bonus income into consideration when the original support decree was issued. The same goes for overtime income—it's usually a seasonal thing and is not a factor in calculating support.

On the other hand, if a parent works in a challenging industry, like coal mining or manufacturing, they may take a pay cut to keep their job. If this happens, the loss of income is considered permanent and a judge may well grant a modification in support.

Finally, if one of the parents quits a job and takes a lower paying position simply to avoid paying support, the judge will not grant the modification. This behavior moves the parent into the "deadbeat" category.

Parental Agreements Aren't Binding

If former partners have a decent relationship, they may agree verbally to accept a lower payment amount. Any agreement should be approved by the court should either party want to make any changes.

In some states, changing the support agreement may be as simple as filing the appropriate forms and submitting them to the county court. If the judge agrees that the modification is justified because of a substantial shift in circumstances, they will grant the request without a hearing.

Finding the Rules in Your State

DoNotPay has researched child support modification guidelines in every state, so all you have to do is click on your state (even if your ex lives somewhere else) to find out the rules for a request.

DelawareMinnesota Wyoming
South CarolinaKansasNorth Dakota
Rhode IslandNebraskaMississippi
New MexicoOhioArkansas
New HampshireNevadaArizona
AlabamaKentuckyWest Virginia
IdahoMassachusetts Georgia
Washington StateColoradoIndiana
CaliforniaNew YorkNew Jersey
FloridaNorth Carolina Wisconsin

How Often Can I Ask For a Modification?

If the courts did not grant your request, you can file again for a modification. Every state is different, and some states require as long as 24 months between requests. This means if your original support was finalized six months ago, you have to wait another year and a half to appeal for a different amount. 

What If I Don't Pay?

If you are the paying parent, don't skip or shorten your child support payments. As we mentioned earlier, you are obligated to pay the court-ordered amount until a judge decides otherwise.

If your ex tells you not to worry about it, just pay what you can, then you are setting yourself up for fines and possible jail time. The second your ex decides they want the mandated amount, they can file a complaint for support and you will lose, no matter what you thought you had agreed to. 

The long arm of the law will find you anywhere in the US and almost anywhere abroad, and the courts will make sure you pay the ordered support. Here are some of the ways they'll make sure your kids get support:

  1. Wage garnishment
  2. Tax refund intercept
  3. Seize bank accounts
  4. Seize personal property

Can I Really Go to Jail if I Don’t Pay the Court-Ordered Amount?

Any amount you are short in any month counts against you and you owe in arrears, which means that you're on the hook for every penny you're ordered to pay—plus fines to the court for delinquency. If the fines stack up, you'll also be looking at possible jail time. 

DoNotPay Can Help You File for Support Payments

Dealing with an ex over money is stressful. DoNotPay is here to help you navigate the process; filing paperwork on your behalf so you can focus on something else. When we handle the filing, you have the peace of mind of knowing that the documents are filed correctly and you're at arm’s length from your ex.

If you want to file a demand letter for late child support payments but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 3 easy steps:

  1. Search child support on DoNotPay and enter the details of the person who owes the payments.


  2. Tell us more about the payment schedule, including the amount and frequency of the payments, the last payment they made and number of missed payments, and how much they owe you in total.


  3. Confirm your contact information and select whether you want us to mail or email the letter on your behalf. Choose how you would like to receive the payment and verify your signature.


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