There are times when a child support arrangement requires modification, such as if you lose your job or are unable to work as the result of a serious illness. If you find yourself in this position, there are a variety of steps you can take to secure a modification.

The one thing you need to remember is that you can’t make this decision on your own. A modification isn’t finalized until the court signs off on it. That’s why it’s important to take these steps in a timely manner:

  • Document your reason for requesting a modification: You need to prove to the court that you’re unable to make your current child support payments. As noted above, this is often the result of a job loss or reduction in pay.
  • Talk to the other parent about your situation: It’s difficult to take this step, especially if you’re at odds with your ex, but they’re going to find out about it soon enough. The primary goal of this conversation is to see if you can get them to agree to a modification. You still need final approval from the court, but they’re more likely to give it to you if your ex agrees.
  • Don’t stop making payments: You’re responsible for all your child support payments until you receive a modification. If you miss any or neglect to pay in full, you’re responsible for catching up in the future. This holds true even if the court grants you a modification for future payments.
  • File your request: As quickly as you can, file your request for a child support modification with the court that issued the original order. Regardless of whether your ex is on board with the idea, you need a new support order to take effect before you can make changes to your payments.

These are the basic steps you must take if you need to obtain a child support modification. It’s your goal to quickly organize your situation, understand the process and take steps to protect your legal rights. And while doing so, you must always keep the best interests of your children in mind.