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A child support reduction is usually requested and granted when a significant change in financial circumstances occur, or when one of the children reaches a self-supporting age. If your jurisdiction has designated a government division to handle your child support case, you should contact it to review your request. Both parents are usually required to complete a new financial affidavit for consideration. If it can be determined that a change is warranted, and, if both parents agree to the child support reduction, the agency will often lower the financial obligation and submit the paperwork to a family law judge on your behalf. If, however, the other parent does not agree with the change, a court date may be set and a judge will rule on whether or not to allow the modification.
Court-ordered child support obligations are generally determined by a jurisdiction's guideline based on the available income of both parents. The financial needs of the child are also considered. In the event of a substantial change in circumstances, such as a parent's job loss or disability, there may be times when the court will temporarily or permanently allow a child support reduction.
If your case is not supervised by a local government agency, or if it determines that a reduction is not warranted and you disagree, you can submit a motion to the court. While it is helpful to file with the assistance of an attorney, it is not always necessary. A pro se motion, meaning that you can represent yourself without legal counsel, is common because this method is much more affordable. In many places, there are no court fees for filings of this type. The cost is usually minimal in other areas.
It is important that you submit your request with little delay. The court does not usually permit a retroactive child support reduction beyond the date of the initial filing. Parents who cease to make timely payments for child support, without going through the proper legal channels, will usually find that they accumulate arrears owed to the other parent that must be paid. Serious consequences for non-payment of child support — such as a revocation of driving privileges, seizure of income tax refunds, wage garnishments, and even jail time — may result.
It is not always easy to convince a judge to award a child support reduction. In cases when there are multiple children and one becomes emancipated, reaches the legal age of independence, or becomes self-supporting, it is more likely to be granted. Sometimes, the parent who receives financial support begins to earn a higher income than the other parent who is required to pay, and in those cases, a child support reduction may be considered as well.