Child support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent, and may be paid either directly, through wage deductions or through a state agency. Support is considered a right of the child and child support awards aren't arbitrary. The federal government requires that each state use child support formulas that take into account parental income, the child's needs and other factors. Thus you can't reduce your payments just because you feel they're unfair or don't want to give money to your ex. However, if you can demonstrate a valid reason for a payment reduction, such as reduced income, you might be able to get payments reduced.
Examine your state's child support calculator. These are usually available on state child support websites or on family law attorney's websites. The questions the calculator offers you are the factors that are considered in child support awards. They usually include parental income and child's expenses. If your income has been reduced or if the expenses for the child are increased, you may be able to modify your child support. If a child emancipates or is adopted, you might be able to change your financial contribution for child support.
File a motion to modify child support. This motion should be filed in the same court that issued your original child support order. In many states, the clerk of the court can provide you with a blank modification form to fill out. You can also draft one on your own, or with the assistance of your attorney. The motion should make clear the reason you wish to reduce your payments, and the amount to which you want to reduce them. Return the motion to the clerk and pay the filing fee. The clerk will schedule a hearing on the motion. Depending upon your state's court rules, you may need to serve the other parent with a copy of the motion or complete a request to have the sheriff serve the other parent.
Attend the hearing on the motion. You must submit evidence that your reason for changing child support is valid. This may include pay stubs to prove that your income has been reduced, orders emancipating a child, receipts for a child's medical bills or other evidence indicating a change. You may also call witnesses who can testify to the facts. Your former spouse will also have an opportunity to present his side and provide evidence. After the judge has heard evidence, she will rule on the motion and will issue an order that states the amount of child support you should pay.
If the other child's parent agrees to reduced support payments, you may be able to sign a joint agreement and submit it to the court. However, because support is a right of children, it will be up to the judge to determine whether the reduction is reasonable.
If you request additional visitation with your children, it may lower your child support payments. However, you should give a compelling reason why you want or why you deserve more visitation. When a parent seeks more visitation to reduce child support payments, a judge may harshly rebuke the parent.
If you stop paying child support or reduce the payment amounts before a judge issues an order that reduces your obligation, you could be held in contempt of court.
- Texas Attorney General: Handbook for Noncustodial Parents
- Pine Tree Legal Assistance: Post-Judgment Motions
- Alaska Court System: Self Help Center: Family Law
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families: Child Support Enforcement Steps
- Cundy and Martin LLC: Reduce Child Support in Hennepin County Minnesota