How to modify child support payments in Alabama
After a divorce is finalized and a child support order is issued, parties to the divorce will often find that their circumstances have changed even a year after the original order was issued. To account for such changes, Alabama domestic relations and family courts will permit changes to the original order, including orders effecting child support. In this post, I will discuss how to modify child support payments in Alabama.
Agree to modify child support payments when you can
If you are looking to modify your child support payments, you should contact the other parent first and see if both of you can agree to modify the child support terms. If you can, then you will both need to petition the court and request an order reflecting the new child support agreement. In most cases, a judge will ratify the agreement and issue a new order unless the child support agreement deviates from Alabama's child support guidelines. If you and your ex-spouse are deviating from the guidelines, then the judge will need to know why the deviation is justified under the circumstances and how the amount agreed on will adequately provide for the needs of the children.
Petition the court to modify child support
If you and the other parent can not agree to change the child support order, then you can petition the court and request a hearing to modify the child support order. Alabama courts will not modify a child support order unless the person requesting the change can demonstrate a material changes in circumstances. There are no hard and fast rules as to what warrants modification and it is ultimately determined on a case-by-case basis. That being said, there are several instances which would constitute grounds for a review to determine if child support modification would be called for:
- The parent paying child support is now spending more time with the child, which can be grounds for deviating from the guidelines and lowering the support amount of the receiving parent.
- Increase in the income of the parent paying child support, which would raise the support amount owed to the receiving parent
- Financial hardship of the parent paying child support, which would lower the support amount owed to the receiving parent. Examples of this would be healthcare expenses from a major illness, inability to work due to serious injury, or the addition of other children to support.
- Change in the income of the receiving parent - either an increase or decrease in income could change the support amount up or down accordingly.
- The passage of time. Cost of living expenses may increase over the course of years as does the cost of raising a child. If such changes are significant, more support may be necessary.
- Changes in the child support laws may warrant a modification of the child support obligation.