Divorce 101 Episode 3: Child Support Modification

Divorce 101 Episode 3: Child Support Modification

Child Support Modification: What You Need to Know

When life circumstances change, you may find your current child support order in need of adjustment. If you’re considering filing a child support modification petition, here’s a brief overview of what you should know.

When may a court modify a child support order?

Child support modification law in New York is typically straightforward. A court may modify a child support order in three circumstances:

1.Three years have passed since the last order was entered or modified. After three years have elapsed, a parent may submit a modification petition to the court. The court will then re-evaluate the income calculations that formed the last order and make necessary adjustments.

2. When one parent’s income has increased or decreased by at least 15 percent. Note that if either parent has an involuntary decrease in income by 15 percent, and that parent is actively seeking better-paying work, then the parent may be entitled to a downward modification of the child support.

3. When there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This is a catch-all provision but typically involves a situation where the residential schedule of the child or children has changed.

When one of these three conditions exist, the court may increase or decrease the amount of child support as it deems necessary.

How do courts determine whether to modify child support?

Once a petition for modification is filed, both parents must submit an income and expense statement, along with supporting documentation, to the court and each other.  These statements document their current income, their expenses, and some of their assets. The court then applies New York’s Child Support Standards Act and examines the needs of the children to determine the appropriate amount of support.

What if I suspect that my child’s other parent’s income has increased, but I don’t think I can prove it?

If you suspect that circumstances warrant a change in the child support order, but you aren’t sure if you can prove it, you may want to file the petition anyway. Upon submitting the petition, both parents are automatically entitled to receive each other’s income and expense statement and supporting documentation such as paycheck stubs, W-2s, and income tax returns. This information will give you a better idea of whether you’re entitled to an increase in support.

In the meantime, keep meticulous records of any indications that suggest a change in the other parent’’ income. For example, if you’ve noticed that the other parent bought a new car and soon after a new truck, or perhaps a new home, write down your observations. This information could help bolster your position if you find yourself in front of a support magistrate.

The Wesley Clark & Bates Method

Wesley Clark & Bates LLP handles child support modification petitions every day. We can provide advice, help you file your petition, or shepherd you through the process. If you’re seeking to modify your New York child support order and live in Western New York, please contact our office at 585.546.1734.  We would be happy to help you achieve the best outcome possible.