Life is dynamic, consistently evolving and presenting us with new circumstances.
In the realm of family law, we acknowledge this dynamism by recognizing that significant life changes can necessitate alterations in existing support orders, whether they be child support or spousal support.
This is especially relevant when these changes impact the financial needs of a child or spouse, or the ability of a parent or spouse to fulfill their support obligations.
Recognizing Significant Change
The court generally defines a ‘significant change’ as one substantial enough to impact the financial condition or obligations of the parties involved. Such changes can take many forms, including:
- A child reaching the age of 18 and graduating from high school, which may lessen or eliminate the need for child support.
- The incarceration of one of the parties, which can significantly impact their income and ability to pay support.
- A substantial shift in the custody schedule, which can alter the child’s living expenses and the division of financial responsibilities between parents.
- Alterations in a child’s health-related needs, such as a child falling ill, becoming disabled, or requiring ongoing medical expenses. (For more information on what types of medical expenses are covered under a support order, visit here).
- Changes to a child’s educational or social needs, such as starting school, a significant adjustment in childcare costs, or changes in extracurricular activity expenses.
- The discovery of ongoing health problems or disability of a party, which can affect their financial standing and their ability to pay support.
Timeliness of Support Order Modification
It’s crucial to note that, in most cases, a new support order will only become effective from the date the petition requesting the modification is filed. Thus, the party seeking to modify an existing order should diligently gather documentation supporting the claim for the modification and file the modification petition as swiftly as possible after the change occurs.
How to Request a Modification
To initiate a modification in a support order, you will typically need to file a motion with the court that initially issued the order. This process can be complex, necessitating the provision of substantial evidence to demonstrate the significant change in circumstances and its impact on the existing support order. A seasoned family law attorney can guide you through this process, ensuring your case is compellingly presented to the court.
Seek Legal Advice
If you’ve experienced a significant change in your life, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can help ascertain whether your support order may be eligible for modification and can assist in navigating the legal process.
Changes in family and financial situations can be sensitive and complex. Ensure your interests are well protected by seeking professional legal advice promptly. If you believe a change in your support order may be necessary, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional legal assistance.