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Learning more about modification of child support orders

Upon the conclusion of a divorce, many parents -- typically those awarded visitation rights in lieu of primary physical custody -- will be ordered to pay child support and will therefore have to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that they can meet these obligations going forward.

Similarly, many parents -- typically those who are granted primary physical custody -- will likely construct a new household budget in reliance on these regular payments by their former spouse.

However, what happens when circumstances change, such that a parent may have trouble meeting their child support obligations, or a parent requires more financial assistance to help raise the child?

The answer is that the parent may need to request what is known as a modification of the child support order either through a child support officer or the court system.

In general, when a payor parent (i.e., the parent ordered to pay child support) or a payee parent (i.e., the parent awarded the child support) seeks to secure a child support modification through either channel, they must demonstrate that there has been what is known as a substantial change in circumstances.

A substantial change in circumstances can include any of the following:

  • Loss of a job
  • Landing a new job
  • A significant decrease or increase in income
  • Onset of disability
  • Change in the child's residence
  • Jail or prison sentence
  • Inpatient treatment for chemical dependency or mental health concerns
  • Military deployment
  • Receipt of public assistance

We will continue to explore this important topic in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions or concerns regarding child support in Minnesota, including modification of existing payments.

Source: Washington County, "Changing a child support order," Accessed March 30, 2015 

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