The Chicago Family Law Blog

How Do I Modify Child Support Payments?

Whether it's a new job or a medical injury, it's not uncommon for child support needs to change when a child's or parent's circumstances change. Fortunately, parents with new needs can make arrangements for child support modification. In general, the payment amount may be increased or decreased depending on certain circumstances.

Here are three ways you can modify child support payments:

  1. Identify substantial change in circumstances. To modify a support order, you will need to demonstrate a significant change in your circumstances. This may include a job change, a change in household income, a medical disability, or another life change. Remember that this change must have occurred after your existing child support order was entered by the court. However, if your order includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) clause, which recalculates payments to reflect inflation, you don't need to seek modification solely for cost of living increases.
  2. Reach an agreement with the other parent. Ideally, you and the other parent should try to reach an agreement outside of court with regard to modifying the child support terms. If you're able to reach an agreement, the judge only needs to sign off on it by approving the change, making for a relatively painless and incredibly cost-effective process.
  3. File a motion with the court. If you can't amicably reach an agreement with the other parent, you'll have to file a motion with the court asking to modify your child support order. The papers you file with the court also need to be served on the other parent. The court will then assign you a hearing date. Once the judge makes a decision at your court hearing, the judge will sign a court order.

Temporary or Permanent Modification

If your changed circumstances warrant a modification, the court may grant either a temporary or a permanent modification. A temporary modification may be granted for a temporary financial or medical hardship. A permanent modification may result from unemployment, a new higher-paying job, disability, remarriage the child's new needs, or new child support laws.

Need More Help?

These are just a few of the steps you need to take to modify a child support order. For more information, check out FindLaw's free Guide to Getting Child Support Payments and speak to an experienced Chicago child support attorney.

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