When you receive a child support order, the language of the order details the enforcement period. In most cases, child support orders are valid until the child turns 18 or, if they go to college, age 21. That does not mean that you must pay that child support amount for the entirety of your child’s life. If something changes, you may be able to modify your order.
There are several common reasons to petition the court for a child support modification.
Your income materially changed
If you lost your job and ended up with a position that pays much less than you were earning when you received the initial support order, a modification petition may allow for recalculation based on your new income level.
Your custody agreement has changed
The child support order typically reflects the custody agreement published along with it. For example, your support order may depend upon the other parent having primary custody with you receiving visitation every other weekend. Taking on 50-50 split custody or becoming the primary caregiver will change your child support obligation.
The child’s needs have changed
As children age, their needs change, including sports team expenses, drivers’ education costs and extra-curricular club fees. These changing costs should be accounted for in the support calculation.
Child support should change as the family dynamic and financial situations change. Consider a modification petition if any of these situations apply to you. You might even consider modifying your support order if you experience an injury and become disabled.