7 Reasons to Modify Child Support

Not everyone who tries to end or modify child support is a bad parent. Often circumstances change and what was once plausible is no longer a possibility.  

 

Once you face the prospect of making child support payments, you may find yourself asking how you can get out of them.

 

For any modification or termination of child support, there needs to be a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances.”  As you’d expect, you’ll need a much more substantial change to rationalize a termination of child support.

 

Before Arizona courts will order a new child support amount, there needs to be at least a 15% change in the overall child support obligation. 

 

Because, it’s often difficult to anticipate what might cause such a change, let’s take a look at the most common reasons people try and modify or terminate child support.

1. Changes in Income

 

This might seem like the most obvious situation, but we often overlook some of the potential causes for income changes.  You might get a raise or a pink slip.  You might start picking up overtime or taking on freelance work.  You might win the lottery.  It’s all plausible, and if any of these things come up, you should expect to modify or end child support.

 

 

2. The Child Begins (or Stops) Attending a Private School

 

It’s surprising the number of children that end up attending private school after their parents’ divorce.  (Not every child of divorce ends up in private school, mind you.)  Every parent wants what’s best for their children and many times they take that to mean the best school and extracurricular activities.   Depending on what your agreement says about these issues, you may want to consider readdressing child support, especially if you’re expected to pay for any of the expenses.

 

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3. Change to Health Care

 

Your employer may switch to a new plan or some unforeseen illness may arise and throw your established health coverage into a tailspin.   This can cause a huge financial shift in your life. Maintaining adequate health insurance for the children should be one of your primary goals as a parent after divorce. According to A.R.S. 25-327, the addition of or a change to health insurance may constitute a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.

 

 

4. Children Reach the Age of 12

 

If children are expensive, then teens are a money pit.  Luckily, the State knows this. Once children reach the age of 12, the State expects that the costs associated with the children will increase.  Because of this, the Arizona Child Support Guidelines provide for a increase in child support once children reach the age of 12.

 

 

5. Changes in Daycare Costs

 

Daycare is both emotionally and financially expensive.  Not only is it horrible to leave your children for a day at work, but you have to pay for it, too.  We expect only the best daycare for our children and that quality comes at a price.  If you want to pay for quality, you might need to ask the Court to reconsider child support.

 

 

6. One of the Children Becomes Emancipated

 

If a child wishes to take care of themselves and move out of a parent’s home, then it’s reasonable to ask to end child support.  Also, once a child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, it’s time to end child support.  However, if the there’s another younger child at home, you’ll still have a child support obligation. You can still modify child support in that situation.

 

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7. Changes to Parenting Time

 

As children grow, so do their needs, friends and activities. As a result, it’s not unusual for parenting time to shift as kids get older. Depending on the extent of the shift, the amount of parenting time being exercised by each parent could be so significant that child support might be affected.

 

**Always remember that if you and your ex have decided to informally change parenting time (without involvement of the court), child support will still be ordered based on the old parenting time schedule unless and until you file a petition to modify.

 

There are numerous reasons to modify child support besides the ones discussed above.  If you’re experiencing a substantial and continuing change of circumstances that makes it more difficult to meet your child support obligation, meet with a financial expert to explore what financial options you have.  If it seems like you can’t continue to meet your needs while providing child support, then a modification might be your best option.

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