When a couple decides to divorce and they have a child in common, child support is ordered to provide for the child’s needs such as food, clothing, shelter and healthcare.
Sometimes, it is necessary to request a modification of the child support amount. This is often because the paying parent has a change in financial circumstances, either an increase or decrease in income.
Child support modifications
In Alabama, either parent can request a child support modification. In order for the court to change the support amount, the parent must demonstrate that the child is under age 19, is not married and that the other parent is earning more or less so that the support would change by more than 10%. The court will use state child support guidelines to calculate the new amount.
Parents should be prepared to bring financial documents including their W-2, paystub, income tax returns and bank statements. They can also bring witnesses who can attest to the change in financial circumstances.
A child support modification can be temporary or permanent. Sometimes, parents need to request the change temporarily because of a medical emergency, an unexpected job loss or a temporary change in child custody. The child support may be permanently modified in situations such as one parent’s remarriage with an increase in income and where the child’s needs have increased, for example.
Consequences for failure to pay
If the paying parent is having difficulty making child support payments, he or she should not simply stop paying. There can be serious consequences for a failure to pay child support, including wage garnishment and license suspension.
If a parent has questions about how child support amounts are determined and how they can be modified, an experienced family law attorney can help.