Lowering your child support

Published 05/06/16 by Admin

Many parents who are obligated to pay child support, contact our office, and ask under what circumstances they can petition the Court to change their child support, and how they can get the child support lowered.

First, it needs to be noted that through Child Support Enforcement Agency or the CSEA, an obligor has the right to have his/her support amount recalculated every three years without filing anything with the court. However, if that review did not cause your support number to decrease, or if you are within the three-year window of review, you may need to file one of several motions with a court of competent jurisdiction to review your support obligations.

If you need to use the court processes to review your support obligation, first you need to decide which Court you need to file in. If you and the child’s mother were married, and then divorced, your action would need to be in the domestic relations court. If, however, you and the child’s mother were never married, you would need to file your action with the juvenile court. Further, once a case has been filed , all other modifications and other actions will likely stay in that same court, as long as the parties’ still reside within the jurisdiction of that court.

Once you decide which Court you need to file in, you have to decide what to file. If you just want visitation, but do not necessarily want to address child support, you could file a motion for custody. If, however, you want child support decided, you should file a motion to reallocate parental rights and responsibilities. However, with that particular motion you will need to prove a change in circumstances, prior to the court making any determination of the issues. The Court requires a change in circumstances, as they don’t want you requesting a new hearing if nothing is different than the last time the Court decides these issues. A substantial change in circumstances could be a change or loss in job, the custodial parent moving into another jurisdiction, a significant change in the health of the child, or any other fact that will MATERIALLY change the decision-making process of the trier of fact, in determining the best interests of the child/children.

A change in circumstances is not because it has been two months since the original agreement, and you don’t like the circumstances. A change in circumstance also is not because you don’t like the mother’s boyfriend, and don’t trust him. A change in circumstances would be, if the mother moved 30 minutes away from a very good suburban school to a violent, inner city school, causing the child’s grades to plummet.

Once you can prove a change in circumstances, you then have the burden of proving that the modification, or change you are requesting, is in the child’s best interests. Often, one of the best ways to get your child support lowered, is by being able to provide for child care of the minor child, for at least 50% of the time. If you can do that, and get the Court to agree that having the child with you at least 50% of the time, is in the child’s best interest, you have an excellent change at getting your child support, deviated to $0. The explanation for this is, if you have your child at least 50% you are already supporting the child when they are with you, and assuming the other side is support financially the child when they are with them, it makes sense for no support to change hands, as both parties are equally supporting the child/children.

There are other ways to decrease the amount of child support you are paying including, ensuring the CSEA has calculated the support obligations properly, also if you have to pay a significant amount of money to engage in visitation with your child, your obligation could be reduced accordingly. In actuality, there are many, many ways to reduce the support obligation, and the only way to adequately reduce your support obligation is to know and understand the child support statute.

If you are having issues with a child support obligation, and would like to have the amount of your child support reduced, please contact our office and speak to one of our domestic attorneys who have a combined over twenty years of domestic experience.