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Can I change my child support payments if I can't afford them?

As a parent, you want the best for your child, even if you are no longer with the child's other parent. However, child support orders regularly become heavier burdens than a parent can reasonably bear. This can happen a number of ways. A court may hand down an order that is unreasonable during the initial custody dispute, or your circumstances may change, making a once reasonable order very difficult to honor.

If you need some relief from a child support burden you cannot carry, you may be able to modify the order itself. If you cannot agree with your child's other parent on how the support should change, you may be able to go before a judge and argue your case. Similarly, if you face a decrease in your income or an unavoidable increase in your expenses, you may qualify for a modification.

When a court hands down a child support order initially, it does so by examining your circumstances at the time and the needs of the child. However, these elements do not remain static, and over time the terms of a support order may no longer be particularly relevant to either child or parent.

Courts often allow a modification to support order if the parent seeking the modification demonstrates a sufficient justification. This might mean showing that you lost a job or suffered an unexpected injury and are overwhelmed by medical debt.

If you need a modification, be sure to pursue it through the proper channels. Simply failing to provide child support or falling behind on your payments is not a wise strategy. You may face civil or even criminal penalties in some cases. An experienced attorney can help you prepare a strong case for modification and walk you through the process so you can keep your rights protected while avoiding common setbacks along the way.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Support Modification FAQ," accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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