STRUGGLING TO MEET CHILD SUPPORT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A BAD PARENT
During your marriage, whether it lasted less than five years or more than 10, you and your spouse no doubt encountered financial challenges at some point, as most couples do. Your household expenses likely increased substantially when you had children. Many parents struggle to make ends meet. That doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t doing everything in their power to provide for their children’s needs.
Likewise, if you get divorced and the court orders you to pay child support, there’s no guarantee a financial crisis won’t hit you down the line. If that happens, you might not be able to make your payments on time, if at all. This does not make you a bad parent. If you have legitimate cause to do so, you can petition the court for child support modification. Just remember that the court will want to see evidence of need.
What constitutes legitimate cause?
Co-parents are sometimes at odds over various issues concerning their children. A parental disagreement does not entitle a non-custodial parent to stop making child support payments. If there’s a court order in place, both parents must adhere to the terms, no matter what, unless and until the court changes the order. The following list shows reasons that most judges would consider valid for modifying a child support agreement:
- If you experience a substantial decrease in income and can’t keep up with payments, the court may agree to lower your monthly payment amount, either temporarily or permanently, as it sees fit.
- An adverse health condition might cause you to endure tremendous financial distress due to medical expenses, which may impede your ability to meet your child support obligations.
- Loss of a job is a legitimate cause for seeking a court order modification.
The key factor in seeking modification of a court order is to show the court that you have a legitimate need to do so. Even if you’re the custodial parent, you may still have grounds for seeking child support modification. For instance, if your children’s financial needs increase as they grow older, which is common, you might ask the court to order a monthly payment increase. If your ex enjoys a substantial pay raise, you might want to ask the court to adjust payments to reflect the increase.
No matter which side of the equation you’re on, you can access the family justice system at any time if you believe your circumstances warrant a temporary or permanent adjustment of your current child support agreement.