Even if a judge orders a joint custody arrangement, you likely won’t get to see your child every day. This change in family dynamics is often heartbreaking for both parents. A court may also require you to pay child support for the benefit of your child. You shouldn’t view this obligation as a burden, however, as your child is the focus and the recipient of the money.
When your family splits, it’s an emotional time for everyone, particularly children. Your child is important to both you and your former spouse, but living as a split family comes with challenges.
Why Child Support Is Important
Child support is money paid to your former spouse for the benefit of your child; the money is not for your former spouse. If a court requires you to pay alimony, that money is for your spouse and is separate from any child support obligation. Child support money is intended for the purpose of keeping your child in the same position that he or she would have been if the family had remained together.
Even though your marriage may not have lasted, your relationship with your child is important. You will likely do everything in your power to ensure that your child has the best opportunities, the best schooling, the best medical care, and feels loved. Part of that is ensuring that he or she has adequate financial support.
What Child Support Covers
Some people think that child support should only cover the bare essentials. While it’s true that food and clothing are part of child support, it also includes much more. Child support covers a broad range of child necessities, including:
- School costs
- Extracurricular activities
- Medical care
The costs of raising a child today are extremely high. From the rising price of schooling to higher gas prices, it’s much more expensive to raise your child today than it was for your parents to raise you. Because of that, it’s important that both parents contribute to the costs associated with raising their child, just as a married couple would. When you face the prospect of only seeing your child on weekends or a few nights per week, having to pay your former spouse money each month is a hard pill to swallow. But remember, that money contributes to the care and support of your child, which is what’s really important.
Changes in Child Support
When a court issues a child support order, that obligation is not set in stone; the court can change your child support payments if your circumstances change. However, you should never reduce or stop paying your child support payments without first getting court approval.
Generally, child support payments continue until your child reaches the age of eighteen. At that point, your child support payments will stop. Prior to that time, however, you must provide a good reason for reducing or stopping your child support payments.
Not wanting to pay child support anymore is not a good reason to stop your payments. In fact, the court will look negatively upon this, because a failure to pay is really only hurting your child. However, there are legitimate reasons for lowering your child support payments, including:
- Job loss
- Salary reduction
- Medical leave
If you’re experiencing any of these types of financial hardships, it’s important to take action right away. The experienced team at Piazza, Simmons & Grant can help request a court to reduce your child support payments. If you wish to modify your child support obligation, you should take the following steps:
- Gather information related to your original child support order. This information is usually found in your final divorce order or divorce decree, which should include the amount that you’re required to pay and the time frame in which you must pay. You need to provide this information to your attorney so that he or she can make sure you’re current on your payments. If you’re experiencing financial hardship and can’t afford to make your full payment, you should at least make a portion of the support payment. Doing so will show the court your care and concern for the well-being of your child.
- File a motion to modify your child support order. Once we review your original child support order, we can request that the court change the terms of that order. To do this, we file a motion to modify your child support. If your financial situation has changed significantly, we may even request a temporary stop to your child support payments.
- Attend a hearing and present evidence. Prior to any modification, the judge will want to speak with you in person. Your attorney will prepare you for this hearing and stand with you when you speak to the judge. The judge will want to know why you’re looking to change your child support payments and will review your evidence. For this reason, it’s important to keep good records that show you have been paying your child support and that your financial situation has changed. If the judge agrees with you, he or she will grant your motion.
Keep in mind that in most cases, a modification of child support is only temporary; your obligation to pay the original amount will likely resume once your financial hardship has ended. The court may even require you to pay the back child support once you are back in a good financial position. The reason for this is not to punish you, but instead to make sure your that child receives the care and money that he or she deserves.
Our Trusted Family Lawyers Can Help You
Whenever you face a family law concern or an issue that you need to address, you deserve to have a trusted family law attorney standing by your side protecting your rights. The legal team at Piazza, Simmons & Grant is ready to help you.
Child support issues are emotional and complex. You need someone who you can trust to help guide you through any challenges that you may face. You need an advocate on your side to ensure that your child is getting the full support he or she deserves.
Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a member of our experienced team. Call Piazza, Simmons & Grant at 203-348-2465 , or contact us online. We look forward to working with you.