If you have a valid reason, it is possible for your child support payment to be reduced. The most common reasoning for reducing child support is a change in income. Other reasons for reducing payments include:
- one of your children turned 18 years old
- special education or child care services are no longer needed (such as day care)
- serious illness for the non-custodial parent
- custodial parent remarries
- change in child custody or visitation schedule
“Most people do not realize that if a child ages out and the non-custodial parent does not ask for a reduction in the child support cost, it will stay the same,” says Joe Roark, attorney at the Bryant Law Center. “When all of the children reach the age of 18, the child support will automatically end.”
Child support is the payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. It is determined by the legal system and paid directly to the custodial parent or through a state agency.
Payments may only be reduced if the non-custodial parent has valid reasoning. It cannot be reduced only because he or she feels the payment amount is unfair or too costly.
“The process is purely about numbers. There needs to be at least a 15% change in the payment amount, or it will not be modified,” says Joe Roark.
Bryant Law Center attorney, Joe Roark, recommends taking the following steps for reducing your child support payment:
Check your state’s child support calculator. You can find the calculator on a state’s child support website or by accessing the following link: http://www.alllaw.com/calculators/childsupport/kentucky. You will answer questions about your income, residence, occupation, etc. If the non-custodial and custodial parents can agree on an amount, the chart value can be ignored. If not, a motion will be filed. It is important to know that if the two parents do not agree on an amount, the judge must award child support by the chart. There is an exception if the judge can show strong reasons not to use the chart. An example of a reasoning is if a disabled child requires higher support needs.
File a motion with the court to modify your child support payment. The motion should be filed in the same court that originally issued your child support. In some states, you can pick up a blank modification form from the court’s clerk, often called a Motion to Modify Child Support. If one is not available, you can draft your own or seek help from an attorney. It is important to make sure the motion clearly states the amount you wish to reduce the child support payment and gives valid reasoning. When the form is complete, return to the clerk and pay the filing fee.
Court hearing will be scheduled. Depending on your state’s requirements, a copy of the motion may be required to be sent to the custodial parent. You can deliver this directly to the custodial parent or request to have the sheriff notify the custodial parent of the motion. Before the judge grants the motion, you may be asked to engage in a court-supervised mediation to establish an appropriate amount of child support payment.
Attend the hearing. Provide valid evidence including pay stubs, orders emancipating a child, receipts for a child’s medical bill, or any other evidence indicating a change. It is important to prove to the court there is a substantial change in circumstances, making the current amount unfair. You may bring a witness to testify the facts. Your former spouse also has the opportunity to present his or her case to the court.