Both child support and spousal support can be subject to change at any given time. As circumstances arise, it might be necessary to make changes in the amount of child or spousal support that is paid.
Virtually nothing is set in stone when it comes to child support, custody and visitation. The same goes for spousal support with the exception of situations where there was a prenuptial agreement in force. Circumstances change and history has proven that time and again. The family courts bear witness to countless scenarios where ex-couples seek to have their child support or spousal support modified. This process is referred to as a post-judgment modification.
Both parties can file a petition for a modification that can go either upwards or downwards, meaning they can ask to have the amount they pay or receive increased or decreased. Most of the time it is the recipient who seeks to have an upward modification and the non-custodial parent or the paying spouse that seeks to have the amount they pay reduced. In either situation, the judge will make a decision in light of what is in the best interests of the children (where applicable).
What kinds of circumstances warrant a post-judgment support modification? Perhaps a supporting spouse lost his job and could no longer afford to pay spousal support. Or conversely, a stay at home mom might need either more money to pay her bills or she may need to extend her spousal support while she completes college. The ultimate goal of spousal support is to help the lesser earning spouse get on their own two feet so they can support themselves; if they need more money to meet their obligations or for a longer period of time, they might petition for a modification and it may be granted.
Child support is very similar to the above. A non-custodial mother or father may need to adjust the amount of support they pay because something happens to their income. They could have their hours cut or they can become unemployed. Although unemployment is not an acceptable excuse for not paying child support, it can have a significant impact on the amount of the monthly obligation.
The custodial parent may need to petition for an increase in child support. They too can be affected by underemployment or unemployment or their children may have increased needs. This can be illustrated in the case where the child has substantial medical costs or is in need of full time medical care.
Whether you are the recipient of child support or spousal support or if you are the person paying, you have the right to request a modification. The sooner you speak to a qualified family law attorney, the sooner you will be able to get the process moving. Merely getting a court date can take a significant number of weeks; therefore, taking action now will be in your best interests.