Unlike many of the “moving parts” of divorce, child support is clear-cut. Minnesota law provides a very specific formula for calculating child support, and it’s rare to see courts deviate from it. However, sometimes new circumstances arise that make it necessary for families to revisit child support orders. Child support orders can be modified to lower or raise support amounts, and it’s not uncommon for courts to hear compelling evidence on both sides of the spectrum.
The Need to Modify Child Support
Let’s face it: we’re living in a difficult economy. Many people are under-paid; many are under-employed. In some cases, a job change—or worse, a job loss—can make paying the same amount of child support that was ordered during the divorce next to impossible.
Sometimes a parent finds that the amount of child support they’re awarded during divorced isn’t enough to make ends meet. However, changing the amount of child support you must pay or the amount that you receive is not a simple process.
Motions to Modify
The party that asks for a change in child support must show the court why the change is necessary. In most cases, the petitioner must meet one of these requirements:
- A substantial change in the income of either party. This can include the payer’s loss of a job or a sudden increase in the recipient’s income; there are several other reasons someone might request a change in child support that have to do with a change in income, as well.
- A cost-of-living adjustment for either parent. If one parent moves to a new city for work, for example, where the cost of living is much higher than it was in the previous city, he or she may be able to reduce the amount paid in child support because it would create a hardship.
- An increase or decrease in the needs of the child or in the needs of either parent. When financial circumstances change, there may be a reason to change child support.
- A substantial change in healthcare costs, such as health insurance or medical expenses. These health care costs can affect the children or the parents, and if they do, a judge may choose to modify your child support order.
Other cases that qualify for a change in child support include a substantial increase or decrease in the amount of child care expenses, changes in the amount of public assistance that one parent is receiving, or the emancipation of a child.
In order to prove that you need to change your child support order, you’ll need to furnish proof that your circumstances have changed substantially. Generally, tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements can serve as evidence; so can medical bills and a variety of other documents.
Call us at (763) 783-5146 to schedule a confidential case evaluation. We’ll discuss your options and talk about filing a motion to modify your child support, which is one of the most common post-decree motions.