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How And When Can Child Support Be Changed?

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While the courts take the issue of child support very seriously, there are a few situations where the orders can be changed. To find out more, read on.

How Child Support Is Decided

In most cases, the parent that makes the most income is tasked with paying for the support of a minor child when the parents no longer live under the same roof. Even if the parents share custody of the child 50/50, when the income of the parents is not equal, one parent can be ordered to make child support payments. However, the issues that led to the child support orders can change over time and adjustments may need to be made.

Income Issues

A parent's income is compared to the state median to determine how much should go to the child. Also in the equation is income from the other parent. When the income of either parent changes, the court can consider those changes. It should be mentioned, however, that temporary or small changes in income may not be enough to trigger a change in the ordered amount. The income change must be permanent and substantial for the judge to adjust the ordered amount or to change the parent responsible for the support payments. If the parent believes that being unemployed is a reason to stop making child support payments, the judge may see things differently and require the parent to show that they are actively seeking employment.


Surprisingly, parents ordered to pay child support may not necessarily duck a child support obligation by becoming incarcerated. That alone is not enough, and child support payments will continue to accrue while the parent is incarcerated. If the parent is not likely to be released, the judge has the power to seize the assets of the parent, if available, for the financial support of the child.


When a parent has become too ill to work and cannot meet their obligation, the judge may consider adjusting the amount owed. However, it's not likely that the judge will suspend the child support obligation entirely. If the parent is owed workers' compensation or other forms of disability payments or benefits, the courts may garnish part of the funds to help meet the obligation.

More Obligations

One issue that can cause the support amount to change is when a parent acquires additional support obligations. For instance, if the parent who is obligated to pay child support has another (new) child to support, the judge will take that into consideration when adjusting the amount due. That is in the hopes of preventing the other child from being left with no support. 

To find out more about child support issues like those above, speak to a family law attorney