Depending on the arrangement parents have, it is common for the parent with less parenting time to pay child support. After all, it is a parent’s responsibility to provide their child with financial support, and it is normal to have such an order in place when unmarried parents live in two separate households.
Most parents do not mind paying child support. However, it does not take much for life to change. When it does, making support payments can suddenly become a major point of stress for some parents.
Thankfully, modifying child support orders is possible
Both the parents paying child support and those receiving support can petition family courts to modify their original child support order. While parents have a right to ask courts to review and modify the order, they must prove that they experienced a significant change in circumstances to actually obtain a modification.
The Maryland Department of Human Services specifically states that parents can move to alter their current child support order if there are changes in:
- Income: This can be an increase or decrease in income. The most common situation is generally if the paying parent suffers a job loss or disability that limits their income and ability to pay support.
- Child’s needs: This includes anything from their general financial needs, educational needs, daycare costs or health care costs.
- Custody: Changes in the child custody arrangement can also lead to changes in child support. After all, if parents adjust the arrangement to share parenting time more equally, then it is likely that their financial responsibilities for the child will also even out and lead to a reduction in child support payments.
Changing the support order can help ensure that its terms continue to meet the family’s changing needs and abilities.
But how can parents modify the order?
It is often helpful to discuss the situation and the process with an experienced family law attorney, but parents must generally:
- File a motion with the family court to modify the order
- Prove the change in circumstances exists and affects the situation
- Obtain consent from the other parent to change the order
Moreover, it is important to note that parents seeking a modification should do so as soon as possible. They still have a legal obligation to pay until the order is modified, so they should consider their situation proactively to ensure they avoid the potential penalties of failing to pay child support and the additional financial stress.