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When should a child support order be updated?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2022 | family law

Parents must share responsibilities when they divorce or separate. If one parent has the children more than the other, they may receive child support. Child support can also be an option in shared custody arrangements where one spouse earns significantly more than the other.

In Pennsylvania, the amount of child support you receive or pay reflects your financial circumstances, the needs of the children and your custody arrangements. Sometimes, you will discover that the child support order no longer reflects your circumstances.

At that point, you may need to request a child support modification, a formal process that typically requires a hearing in family court.

When are child support modifications possible?

In Pennsylvania, the family courts must revisit child support orders every four years until the children no longer require support. The state will make adjustments automatically when your case comes up for routine review.

However, if your family circumstances change before that much time passes, you can request a modification hearing instead of waiting several years for the pre-arranged review.

You could ask for a modification when your income increases or decreases, the other parent’s income changes or the children’s financial needs change. Provided that the change is material and substantial, either parent can potentially ask the courts to formally reconsider and potentially change the existing support order.

If you lose your job or your child care costs will soon double, there is a good chance of qualifying for a hearing to adjust your child support order.

Informal modifications won’t protect either spouse

You might think that you can make an indirect arrangement with your ex to manage your support. They could agree to pay you more when your children need braces, or you could accept less if they get temporarily laid off from work. Those informal arrangements don’t actually protect either of you.

The parent receiving support won’t be able to take action if the other stops making payment in accordance with their informal agreement, and the parent paying child support could be subject to enforcement actions from the state even if their ex doesn’t request enforcement.

Obtaining a child support modification can help you meet your children’s needs and reduce the strain in your co-parenting relationship.