Parents who share children but not a relationship have several decisions to make. One of them is how to handle a child support agreement. When one parent has primary custody of the children, he or she often receives child support payments from the other parent to help financially support them.
If you are in this situation, you know just how important a child support agreement is for the proper care of your children. However, if you have ever struggled to make your court-ordered payments or the other parent of your children is not making proper payments, you have several options of which you may not be aware.
Changing child support payments
Though many people here in Michigan may not realize this, it is possible to change a child support agreement. You need a court order to do so from the same court that issued your original order, even if you and the other parent reach an agreement without a judge beforehand. If a disagreement arises, a court hearing will give you and the other parent a chance to explain why the order should or shouldn't change. Most of the time, one parent will have to show evidence that a change has happened that warrants modification to the order.
Another fact you may not know about is that a child support modification doesn't have to be permanent. All that you may need is a temporary modification, especially if the situation will not be permanent. For example, maybe the child or parent has a medical emergency or one parent has lost his or her job. This may also be reason to change a child custody agreement if one parent is not going to be able to care for the child for a while.
Permanent child support modification
A child support agreement may need to a permanent modification if there is a permanent change in a parent's circumstances. Remarriage, changes in laws, disability, a new job or changing needs of a child are all reasons that a parent may seek out this option. Many of these scenarios represent a change in a parent's income level, which is a common factor in modifying child support payments.
Modifying a child support agreement without a judge
It is possible to change an existing child support agreement without the aid of the court, but it requires forethought. A cost of living adjustment clause can be included in a child support agreement, depending on the judge issuing the order. A COLA allows for a yearly adjustment based on the increases often associated with the cost of living in a certain area. If your order includes a COLA, economic indexes drive modifications to child support payments and can increase or decrease payments accordingly.
As with any child support agreement, if you believe you need to change yours, consulting a legal expert may be the best course of action. The most important thing is providing for your children, no matter the circumstances of you or the other parent. If you need a child support modification, you can take steps to ensure that your children receive the care they need.