In most states, modification of child support requires a material change of circumstances. Throughout your child’s life, there will be certain times when it is important to stay apprised of the changes in your case as they relate to child support.
For example, pay attention to when your children stop going to day care or if their day care provider changes. In many states, this is a factor used to calculate child support and can drastically reduce your support obligation if day care costs are eliminated because of the age of your children.
Another factor to watch when building a case to modify and reduce child support is the number of days you spend with your child.
If you are exercising more time than is outlined in your custody or visitation order, that may qualify as a change of circumstances potentially reducing your child support obligation depending on how many extra days you have.
First and foremost, anyone considering a possible modification of a current child support order should become familiar with the issuing state’s modification requirements.
These often include specific requirements for a minimum percentage of change prior to a request being made, as well as some type of duration requirement for the change to have been in place.
I would highly recommend meeting with an attorney in the state that the support order originates from. This is important in discussing why a modification is necessary, as the reason will often determine the available options on presenting the information to the court.
For example, if the modification is requested due to a loss of employment, it may be necessary to prove your efforts to find employment.
Work with the local attorney to discuss if and when you should consider a modification.
One thing to consider when looking to modify or reduce child support is whether there has been a change in custody, regardless of whether a motion to modify custody has been filed with the court.
In some jurisdictions, a mutually agreed-upon change in physical custody will allow a change in child support retroactive to the date that the change occurred (rather than the date of filing the motion), even if the change in custody was not court-ordered.
This can be particularly useful in reducing child support for the party paying support if they have been exercising more parenting time than in the court order.
In Wisconsin, child support is typically calculated using a formula that takes into consideration both parent’s gross incomes and the number of overnights each parent has with the child or using a straight percentage of a parent’s income, depending on the circumstance.
Because there is not a lot of wiggle room to deviate from the formulas and percentages, it is important you can prove why a reduction is warranted.
The most common reason why a person requests that child support be reduced is that the person’s income has been reduced – but sometimes this can be difficult to prove, especially for people who work on commission, are self-employed or get a substantial portion of their annual income from bonuses.
If you fall into one of these three categories, it is important that you provide believable financial documentation to show that you have reduced income and you may also need to bring in an employer who can testify about your income information – particularly if you’re a business owner.
You may also be able to seek a reduction in child support if you have significant daytime placement with a child.
For example, even if a person doesn’t have an overnight with the child, they might care for that child four days a week after work, feed the child dinner, take the child to activities, etc. This type of “equivalent care” can be used to make an argument for a downward deviation in child support if you’ve documented the amount of time you have the child and what costs you incur.
In Ohio, child support is based upon a statutory formula and guidelines. This can make modifying and reducing support a difficult task at times.
When looking to build a case, men need to be able to provide documentation to support the modification. They need to obtain recent copies of paystubs or income, the most recent tax returns and any other documents to support their claim as to current income.
Additionally they can prepare a budget document showing their monthly expenses, including those that they pay for the children outside of support. The more documentation they have to support their position, the easier it is to show the court the need for a reduction in support.
If you are seeking to modify or reduce child support due to a loss of employment or income, you should be prepared to demonstrate to the court your efforts to mitigate the loss.
This includes keeping a detailed log of your efforts to secure new employment, including a listing of all jobs applied for, all sources you used to search for a new job, all interviews you have participated in, etc.
You also need to keep all documents which prove the information in the job log, such as all letters and e-mails with potential employers, all job postings you applied for, rejection letters, etc.