A lot changed in your life because of your divorce. Perhaps you moved or are trying to regroup your finances after splitting marital assets. You may also have the new responsibility of paying child support each month. These changes are only a few of the many you will experience in the time of transition after a divorce is final. Sometimes, these changes can affect your ability to keep up with your financial responsibilities, including financial support for your children.
If you cannot pay child support in the full amount because of circumstances beyond your control, this does not make you a bad parent. You may feel guilty or overwhelmed, but it may be possible to secure either a permanent or temporary modification to your support order. You may find it helpful to learn more about how and when courts grant modifications and whether you are eligible.
Changing a court order
A child support order is a court order, which means any changes are subject to the approval of the court. You cannot simply decide to stop paying or start paying less. However, a simple verbal agreement between you and your spouse may be sufficient if your current reduced financial circumstances are only temporary. Before you seek a modification, you may need to know the following:
- You can request a modification from the original family court. However, a hearing may be necessary if the two parents cannot agree on a change.
- If you have a financial emergency that will affect your ability to pay, you can request a temporary modification until you can resume payments or pay in full again.
- Circumstances that may merit a change in a child support order include job loss, remarriage, birth of additional children, disability or ongoing medical issues.
Simply changing or stopping your payments on your own is not a prudent course of action. If you are no longer able to keep up with this obligation, you may want to start by speaking with the other parent about your concerns and discussing your situation with an attorney.
The right help for a complex issue
Child support can be a complicated and emotionally challenging issue for two parents, even after a divorce is final. You would be wise not to navigate this problem on your own. Speaking with an experienced legal ally can help you understand if you qualify for a modification and how you can proceed with the appropriate course of action.