Making the transition into a single parent raising a child separately from your ex is often much more difficult than you might expect. The problem can be complicated if you owe a significant child support obligation. In some cases, parents are assigned child support obligations that are not easy to maintain. Some parents choose to deal with this by working out a handshake deal with the other parent to avoid having to deal with the courts.
While this may feel like a win-win if you struggle to make your child support payments, if and when a court sees that you are not meeting your full obligations, it may hand down significant punishments. Some of these punishments can make it difficult to earn an income at all.
It is almost always wiser to seek a modification of your support order than to fall behind on it. If you believe that you may benefit from a properly executed child support modification, be sure to build a strong legal strategy to help you navigate the modification process and protect your rights in the meantime.
Justifying a modification
In order to receive a modification from a court, you must first demonstrate to the court that you have a strong justification for your request. If the initial modification order is too demanding, you may need to detail just how to make it more bearable to the court. However, in most instances, courts are more likely to approve a modification if the requesting party demonstrates some significant change in life circumstances. Such changes might include:
- Large reductions in your income
- Loss of employment
- Significant financial setbacks, like medical bills
- Significant life events like a car accident or illness
If you experience any of these difficulties, it may be enough to qualify you for a modification, and even if your circumstances are more nuanced, you may still succeed in finding relief through the court.
Penalties for non-payment
While it may seem like an unnecessary hassle to modify a custody order rather than work out a personal agreement with the other parent, such side deals place you in great danger. The other parent almost certainly needs the support that you have difficulty paying, and even if he or she agrees to let you pay less than the court-ordered amount, this does not actually change your legal obligation to pay.
There is nothing to stop a frustrated parent from reporting the other parent to the court at any time. If the court sees evidence of non-payment (which is very easy to identify), it may punish you by revoking your license or, in extreme circumstances, may garnish your wages or take other similar actions.
Protect your own best interests and the interests of your child by seeking out a modification as soon as you know that you need one. In the long run, you will save yourself many headaches with the court and help keep your rights as a parent secure.