I look through the ways people end up on this blog every once in a while and this is one question I can probably answer fairly well. I’ve been in and out of court for 7 years now. Just last month he filed to lower my child support again, just as I remarried.
So I am going to assume that you already have a court ordered child support amount and for some reason you want it raised. If you don’t have one, contact your child support office or local courthouse and they will help you with the process of filing for parentage and all that.
But let’s assume you already have an amount set. The only way to change this is a change in circumstance. The CP (custodial parent) might have lost a job. The NCP (non-custodial parent) might be making more, or you think he (or she) is making more.
Other changes in circumstance might seem important, but most likely won’t affect child support amounts: cost of living increase, educational costs, change in housing costs, more children. You can attempt to change the child support amount. It might be worth the effort. But most likely not.
Your local child support office should have a child support calculator on their website. Find the local offices here. Find the calculator, plug in the numbers you have and find their number for the amount.
If this is 10% over what you’re getting it is likely the judge will want to review your case. Not 10% or more and it says in most court rules about filing that they’ll just shred it.
Go to your local court house and ask for papers to modify child support. You will have to fill out an affidavit and give them copies of pay stubs and tax returns. They will send the same request to the NCP. Remember that if he/she works under the table a lot of money can be hidden.
The court will set a case managers conference or a hearing, depending on what state you’re in or a hearing. The judge will hear from both sides about why they think support should be raised or lowered. Then they will decide on a number there, or tell you something will come in the mail.
Remember these important things I’ve discovered:
- The financial afidavit doesn’t really ever come into play as far as I know, because they’ve never looked at bills at any hearing I’ve been to. He always puts down something like $3600 in monthy bills and I put down $1256 because that’s what my 3 kids and I can survive on. I’m not sure how this would ever come into play.
- It doesn’t appear to be based on the “standard of living the children were used to when the parents were married” as the court forms say. They once based his amount on what he could possibly earn according to him if he moved to the area we were living. He said in court that he could make “$10 an hour after 23 years in the food service industry” and the judge based the amount on that number.
- Never once have my educational costs or student loan payments come up.
- The office of child support will send a representative to the hearing if you are involved with their office. They don’t work for you or for the NCP. They can help or be very dangerous to you. They once told him if he moved from state to state every six months it would be impossible to catch him. Yeah.
- You may get more money, or you may get screwed. If you get to court, you’ve opened the door for the judge to raise OR LOWER your amount. It could go either way. So unless you can prove the NCP makes more or you make less be very careful. He asked they lower the amount to $300 a month based on his disbelief that they could actually cost me that much to raise and he demanded an itemized list of what I spent every penny on and he was allowed to being that delusionishnesseses to court.
- Just recently I learned that you can ask the office of child support to make a judgment on if support should be raised. They ask each party for a financial affidavit and their system spits out a number, which they mail to both parties and the court. They don’t file to modify, but they are a resource. Even if the number isn’t 10% over the current amount, either party can take it to court, although if it is under 10% the court will most likely shred it. And either party can file as often as they like. There appears to be no limit at the child support office.
- EVERY JUDGE IS DIFFERENT. I’ve been to court so many times I’ve lost track. And every judgment seems arbitrary. They don’t know what to do with one sane party and one COMPLETELY OFF THE WALL PARTY. One judge even let him offer his swollen ankles as evidence. It is a crap-shoot. And they (at least in Vermont) tend to be sexist, don’t care how professional you look, what degree you have, or if the other party wears a hat, shoes with holes, or talks over them.
- If you can afford a lawyer, get a lawyer. If you can’t then be careful. Any court hearing leaves you open to being screwed.
- Being remarried really has nothing to do with it. The papers I received last month to fill out because he wants support lowered because I remarried and he’s a piddly-ass loser who doesn’t feel a teeny bit responsible to provide anything for his children, the papers didn’t ask for any info about my new husband. So my income is the same and my bills have gone up! It’s a waste of time for everyone.
I know I’m a DOWNER. But if your income has dropped, or the NCP’s has gone up check your state’s calculator. Call or go in to see the Clerk of Court. Ask for a form to file for modification. I don’t believe in just letting it go. I will fight and continue to fight for justice. Alot of people have suggested I give up on child support and just go on with my life. But you know what? If I get a penny I’ve won a small victory for my children.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.