Divorce often has a lasting financial impact on those who use it to end their marriages. One of the most significant financial consequences of divorce is the requirement to pay either child support or spousal support, formerly referred to as alimony. When you have to pay support to your children or your ex, you lose a significant portion of each paycheck.
While it is a legal obligation to fulfill court orders that require you to pay support to an ex or your children, that doesn't mean you cannot have those obligations adjusted. Securing a support modification is often in the best interest of those paying support when they find themselves unable to continue making payments as ordered by the courts.
Modifications could help when your financial circumstances change
The courts use a very specific formula to determine what is a fair and reasonable amount of support to pay. They look at how much both you and your ex make, how much childcare costs for your family, your personal assets, and any special medical needs of both your ex and your children when setting support amounts.
All of that allows the courts to set an amount that is reasonable and fair for everyone involved. However, life has a way of throwing curve balls at people one after another.
Shortly after your divorce, you may find that you need to move or that you're going to change jobs. Whether you get laid off or choose to accept a less difficult job as you begin to transition toward retirement, you may find that your income reduction is difficult to adjust to.
This is often exacerbated by the requirement to continue paying the same amount of support. If your income level has changed substantially, the courts may reevaluate your child support amounts and make them reflect more closely your current level of income.
You have to do things officially
The biggest mistake that people tend to make regarding spousal or child support payments is stopping or changing the payments without going through the courts. Even if your ex has informally accepted your request to change the support amount, you could still find yourself subject to enforcement actions in the future.
A verbal agreement will certainly not outweigh a court order when it comes to your obligations. Filing a request for a modification is the first step toward securing a more reasonable child support or spousal support amount. Once you file your request, the courts will grant a hearing. You can then provide financial documentation that will help them set a more reasonable amount of support.
Working with an experienced family law attorney can make the modification process easier and smoother. If you believe you may qualify for a child support or spousal support modification, it's probably time to sit down and talk with the lawyer.