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Can My Child Support Orders Be Modified?

By Sheryl Rentz on May 8, 2017

Usually, when a judge settles a case, the ruling he or she makes is permanent. And it can only be appealed with great expense and difficulty. However, when it comes to divorce proceedings, determinations regarding child custody, child support, and alimony are not intended to be permanent, but rather can be modified if new circumstances call for it. This is especially true when the order pertains to children.

According to Pennsylvania law, “Either party to a child support order may request an order modification any time they experience a material change in circumstances such as a change in income; child care expenses; medical coverage; custody; age of the child; incarceration; relocation; disability; death; or, special needs of the child.” This means that your child support order could be subject to a change at any time, whether requested by you or by your former spouse.

Why You Might Want to Modify a Child Support Order

Reasons for asking for a change in child support include you or your former spouse being fired from a job, starting a new job with a different level of pay, being promoted to a higher-paying position, or working reduced hours. Whenever there is a material change in one parent’s financial circumstances, he or she is able to petition for a change in the child support order. He or she might ask to increase or decrease the payments, depending on the situation.

What Will the Judge Look At?

Such requests are not automatic. Judges do not generally allow for modifications to a child support order without evidence that the change in circumstances is substantial, material, and permanent. The other parent will be allowed to dispute the change as well. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney advocating on your behalf.

Make Sure Any Changes to Support Are Done Legally!

You should also be aware of the danger of verbally agreeing to changes in child support, alimony, or child custody with your former spouse. Such agreements are not legally recognized and could come back to haunt you.

For example, you might explain to your spouse that you have lost your job, and can no longer afford to pay full child support while you are looking for a new position. Let’s say your spouse agrees that instead of paying $500 a month, you will pay $250. After six months, you find a new job, and resume your payments as before, but your spouse expects you to pay back the $1,500 difference from the six months you were unemployed. Because you only had a verbal agreement, it’s likely a judge would side with your spouse and order you to repay the full amount.

No matter what your particular circumstances, if you or your former spouse is seeking to modify a child support order, you should discuss your options with a Montgomery County family law attorney. Sheryl R. Rentz has the experience and resources that can help you change or maintain a custody order. Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100 to schedule a free consultation today.

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