Raising a child is an expensive venture, and one that will last for at least 18 years. For many parents, sharing these expenses is second nature and issues don't arise, especially when parents remain in a relationship with each other. Oftentimes, though, parents either had their child out of wedlock or have since divorced, making a fair division of child raising costs more of an issue.
To ensure that each parent pays his or her fair share, family law courts establish child support obligations that must be paid by noncustodial parents. These amounts, as we have discussed previously on the blog, are determined based on a number of factors, including income. But life changes, and many noncustodial parents find themselves facing economic hardships that may make it difficult for them to make good on their child support obligation. When this happens, a child support modification may be warranted.
Those who are considering seeking a modification should keep a few tips in mind. First, they should be sure to act quickly. The current child support obligation will continue to be due until a court issues a modification order, which means a failure to act quickly could result in the accumulation of arrearages. Second, it might be beneficial to seek a modification agreement with the other parent. When a viable option, this method can save time, money, and emotional hardship.
When seeking a modification, a noncustodial parent must show changed circumstances that have affected his or her ability to pay the currently ordered amount. Therefore, those thinking about seeking a modification should be sure to carefully document their changed life conditions, whether it is the loss of a job or the onset of a medical condition. A court may also be more lenient on a noncustodial parent who has been actively seeking to mitigate the effects of the change, such as by searching for a new job when another has been lost.
A child support modification can mean the difference between financial stability and falling into a financial pit that grows deeper and deeper as arrearages accumulate. In an attempt to avoid the latter, Louisianans who are struggling to pay child support should consider seeking legal counsel.
Source: FindLaw, "Child Support Modification Tips," accessed on March 24, 2017