Are you a parent considering the possibility of a child support modification? The most common reasons a parent requests a modification are:
- The Obligor (parent paying) lost his/her job. Obligor requests modification.
- The Obligor is earning substantially more than previously. Obligee (parent receiving) requests the modification.
- The Obligee is earning substantially more than previously. Obligor requests the modification.
- A child turns 18 and graduates from high school. Obligor requests the modification.
- There is a significant change in the parenting time schedule the parents follow.
You think the modification is necessary. But, do you find the process confusing or daunting? The process can be intimidating. In fact, the overwhelming nature of the process ends up pushing many parents away from seeking the child support modification even when their financial situations call for a change. However, especially for simpler modifications, you might find help you need by looking online the Self-Service Center in Maricopa County, or an outlying county.
When there is an actual financial need for a child support modification due to changed circumstances, you would find it very helpful to seek the assistance of an experienced Arizona divorce attorney. Ignoring a modification, whether up or down, can be extremely costly in the long run: both financially and emotionally. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, the matter can be addressed in a timely manner that takes into account your specific circumstances.
When considering a child support modification, it’s important to remember that there is nothing “automatic” about the process. The only people paying attention to your child’s continued child support eligibility or any changes in income or financial status are you and the other parent. Just because there is a change does not mean that the system will be automatically triggered to put a modification in place. The court has to be petitioned to consider the current situation and to request a child support modification.
A child support modification is not retroactive. Any change that is requested cannot begin any sooner than the first of the month following legal service (notification) to the other parent. So, it’s important to take action as soon as a significant change occurs. This may be crucial if the Obligor, the parent paying the child support, loses his/her job through no fault of their own. The judge/commissioner will be unfazed if you find yourself in court months later explaining that you could not pay because you were temporarily unemployed. You should have petitioned for a modification. In instances such as this, “putting off” contacting an attorney to file for a child support modification may result in significant damage to your finances.
It may also be tempting to address the issue “out of court.” Just remember that a handshake has never constituted a child support modification. You do not want to learn that painful lesson in court where others before you have already suffered. You may consider it a financial drain to retain an attorney to go through the legal process to make that “handshake” a court order to change the child support amount. Yet, by doing so, you may avoid visiting the court after being found in contempt for not paying the entire child support amount. The other parent may have conveniently forgotten about the “new deal” you made and sealed with a friendly handshake. If a child support change is necessary – it simply must occur through the court. It’s the only way to make an actual change to the order.
If you need help with a petition for child support modification or if you have other questions regarding divorce in Arizona, please get in touch with an experienced Family Law lawyer as soon as possible at SHERIDAN LARSON, PLLC.
Information Not Legal Advice. This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.