Child support payments are necessary to help keep children healthy and happy, but what happens when parents are asked to pay too much? If you are having a difficult time affording your child support payments, or if you notice your payments going to your ex rather than your child, you might be concerned about overpaying. Child support payments are determined on a case-by-case basis, which means it can be difficult to determine what amount is deemed fair and what is unfair. However, if you aren’t confident in the amount you pay, it’s worth considering whether or not you pay too much.
If you think you may be paying too much in child support, consider the following:
When Was Your Child Support Ordered?
In most circumstances, courts understand that child support orders cannot always last. The court expects that circumstances will change, and when they do, the support payment should be adjusted accordingly. If the court ordered your support payments just a few short months ago, your positions have probably not changed, which means that decreasing your payments is unlikely. However, if your child support was created 5 years ago, you’ve probably experienced a few substantial changes that could affect your ability to pay the existing child support order. In such cases, you should talk to your lawyer about seeking a modification. Without a legal modification, the existing child support orders will remain legally binding.
Is Your Income Different?
One of the biggest reasons for a child support modification is a change in income. If you’ve recently lost your job, been demoted, or experienced any decrease in income, you might find it especially challenging to pay your court-ordered child support. Your expenses might also have changed in a substantial way. For example, your health insurance costs may have risen, or you might no longer have health insurance. In such situations, you can petition the court for a modification to ensure you do not pay above your means.
Have Your Family Circumstances Changed?
In the event that you remarry, have other children, or experience another change in family circumstances, you might also be overpaying for child support. If you, the paying parent, have had other children, your financial obligations also extend to them. In other words, your child support payments should be modified to reflect your financial obligations to the other children you care for. Also, if your custody arrangement has changed, the child support payment should as well. For example, if the paying parent now shares custody and cares for the child during half of the week, they might not be required to pay support anymore, or their payments might decrease. Again, this must be approved through a legal modification.
Have Your Child’s Circumstances Changed?
If your child has different financial needs than he or she did when the support payments were ordered, you might be overpaying or underpaying. Children with severe health problems, for example, often require more care, which can be expensive. But, if your child is now healthy, their financial need has decreased, and your child support payments should as well.
When a parent feels that they pay too much in child support, they should discuss their options with their lawyer. Any substantial change in circumstances could warrant a legal modification, which can help decrease payments and make them easier to afford.
Contact Ford & Friedman to discuss your case with our Henderson family law attorney.