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Child support: Are you paying more than you can afford?

When the court issues you a child support order, it's your legal obligation to make payments in full and on time. Neglecting to do so can land you in hot water with the law, while also impacting the relationship between you and your children.

However, there are times when a court issued child support arrangement doesn't align with your financial means. For example, if a serious life event has occurred, you may no longer have access to as much money as you once did.

Since you can't make a change to your child support obligation on your own, you need to file a modification request with the court. Here are the steps you can take to prepare yourself:

  • Have a reason for requesting a modification: The court won't issue a modification if you can't prove that your financial circumstances have changed. For example, if you lost your job, the court will realize that you can't make your payments, at least for the time being.
  • Act sooner rather than later: Waiting to request a child support modification won't do you any good. The court expects you to make your payments in full until you receive a modification, so taking action moves you closer toward clearing the air.
  • Talk to the other parent: This is never easy to do, especially if you have trouble communicating with one another, but getting them to understand your situation can help you receive a modification. The court still has to agree, but having the other parent back you up improves your odds exponentially.
  • Keep making payments: Maybe you can stretch your budget to continue to pay in full. Or maybe you can only pay a portion of what you owe, as there simply isn't any other money to go around. Regardless, make sure you do your best to pay as much as you can. This shows the court that you're trying to do the right thing.

If you can no longer afford to make your child support payments, requesting a modification is a must. Even though you owe child support, you still have legal rights. And protecting them will work in your favor.

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