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Key factors often leading to child support modification

Child support orders are given out based on the specific details of the case -- income levels, number of children, etc -- at the time of the divorce. However, we all know just how fast life can change. Below are a few reasons a modification may be needed down the line:

-- Income changes. You could lose your job, get a pay cut or quit one job in favor of another. When your income levels change significantly, payments that were initially affordable may be too high.

One important thing to remember here is that increases in income could also spur one parent to ask for a modification. If the parent making the payments was just making minimum wage at the time of the divorce, those payments could be very low. If he or she then gets a job making $100,000 per year, the other parent may find it very unfair to still be paid as if that person is making vastly less.

-- Families change. For example, you could get married again and have another child a few years after the divorce. You now have an obligation to care for your new family, as well, leaving you with less disposable income than you had when you were single.

-- The child's needs change. For instance, a child who was healthy at the time of the divorce could be diagnosed with a disease. Other changes in needs just happen naturally as kids grow up; an infant has very different needs than a teenager, and costs are drastically different.

Child support payment modifications are possible. Remember, no alterations can be made without the approval of the court. You absolutely need to know how to make the changes in a legal fashion. Never make them on your own. For example, if you lose your job, don't just quit paying immediately. Look into the proper steps that have to be taken to eliminate that responsibility, or you'll still owe that money.

Source: Single Parents, "Requesting Child Support Modification in Court," Debrina Washington, accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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