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Questions about child support modification

If you or your ex-spouse's financial circumstances have changed -- whether you're the recipient or the payer of child support -- you may be able to apply for a child support modification. If successful, a judge will permanently or temporarily alter the child support payments that apply to your divorce decree.

Parents who want to modify their child support orders will likely have a lot of questions about the process. Here are three general questions that will probably be on their minds:

How do I apply to modify my child support?

Parents who want to modify their child support need to go to the same court that issued their child support orders. Even if you and the other parent privately agreed to a child support modification, you need to contact the court directly to obtain final approval of the changes.

If you and the other parent are not in agreement about the child support change, you'll have to submit the appropriate request to the court. Your ex-spouse will have the chance to respond to this request. Furthermore, you'll need to appear at a hearing in which the judge will be able to ask you and your ex-spouse questions regarding the modification request before deciding on the matter.

When can I get a short-term child custody modification?

Child support modifications are either temporary or permanent. Imagine, for example, that a parent suffers a temporary medical emergency or a temporary loss of your job. In these cases, where income runs dry temporarily, a parent can apply for a reduction in support obligations to help him or her get through the rough patch.

When can I get a permanent child support modification?

In cases where an individual permanently changes his or her employment circumstance and will permanently receive a lower wage, he or she can apply for a permanent modification. In other circumstances, such as following a permanent disability or a permanent change in the financial needs of the child, a judge might award such a modification.

Do you have questions about modifying your child support payments?

Don't move forward with a child support modification request, and don't try to defend against a modification request, until you have answered all of your questions about the process. Ultimately, knowledge is power in any legal matter -- and child support modifications are not an exception to the rule.

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