Robert D. Paulbeck, Attorney at Law
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Child support payments no longer feasible?

Adapting to life after divorce may have challenged you in ways you never thought possible in life. Many Michigan parents say the biggest challenge they faced in divorce was trying to achieve amicable agreements with their former spouses regarding child support payments. You may have been one of the lucky ones who was able to reach a compromise, allowing you to avert many potential obstacles in court. Perhaps some time has passed and things have been going very well where your new parenting plan is concerned; that is, until now.

It's not your fault if you experience a major life change or something else happens that unexpectedly renders you unable to meet your current child support payment amount. You'd definitely not be the first parent to face such circumstances. The problem is you can't simply start sending less money to your children if there's an existing court order specifying payment amount. In fact, unless you have court approval, you cannot make any changes regarding child support, custody or visitation issues, even if you and your former spouse are in agreement.

Reasons for child support modification

No one's circumstances stay the same forever. Sometimes, you are aware ahead of time that certain changes are going to take place; however, that may not make it any easier to satisfy your child support agreement if you know the impending change is going to negatively affect your finances. That's why the law allows you seek modification of your existing child support order. The following list is comprised of several common reasons the court considers valid although it will review each situation on a case-by-case basis:

  • Relocation caused increased living costs: Perhaps a change in your current job necessitated relocation. Once you settled into your new place, you quickly realized a much higher cost of living as opposed to your former residence. You also became keenly aware of the fact that making ends meet would be challenging enough, and thus keeping up your current child support payments would be nearly impossible. This would be a good reason to request modification of your existing parenting plan.
  • Loss of employment: If you walked into work one day only to learn your current position was being eliminated and your services to the company were no longer needed, you may have felt the immediate brunt of a sudden inability to pay child support. Not everyone has a nest egg set aside to cover such expenses, and many court order modification requests have to do with job losses.
  • Former spouse's income increases: If your children's other parent starts making a lot more money than the income that existed when your court order was issued, you may be able to convince the court that your payments should be lowered since the custodial parent has more money coming in to provide for the children living in the same house.
  • Remarriage on either side: If you remarry and have additional family members to provide for, or your children's other parent ties the knot with someone, it may indeed be an appropriate reason to request lowered child support payments.

Going through the process of seeking modification on your own can be a bit overwhelming. It is crucial to follow protocol, however, and to keep up on your current payments unless and until the court officially lowers your required amount. To avoid added stress, many Michigan parents ask family law attorneys to act on their behalves when filing papers to seek any type of change in their existing parenting agreements.

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