Are You Paying Too Much Child Support?

Child support is not set in stone, and it’s not just going to go up over time, either. Depending on how life goes, it may be possible to have child support lowered. When finances or situations change, it may necessitate paying a smaller amount each month than the previous payments. Though this needs to go through court to be done properly and prevent issues, it is possible to do with the right help.

How Child Support is Calculated

Child support is based on numerous factors. When the original child support calculation is done, it is based on the number of children, the gross monthly income of both parents, whether a parent pays child support for another child, whether they pay alimony, and other expenses like daycare or group health insurance. The judge overseeing the case considers all of this and determines how much money the non-custodial parent will pay each month. The goal of child support is not to take too much money from one parent but to make sure the child receives enough funds during the money to cover all necessary expenses. If there are additional expenses the child needs, like special medical services, those can be included in the calculations, too.

Deviations From Calculations

The number provided by the judge is not necessarily the amount that child support will be, as there are times when the couple may decide on a different number. The judge may also decide on a number different from their calculations, depending on the circumstances. When this is the case, the amount can deviate significantly from the basic calculations. It is vital for the parent to have a child support consultation with a lawyer if they’d like to find out more about why the number was chosen and if there’s a way to reduce it. It may be possible to ask for a reduction to make the child support payments more affordable.

When to Ask for a Reduction

There are numerous times when asking for a reduction may be necessary. Some of the most common reasons include the following.

Changing Jobs

Changing jobs doesn’t always mean a pay increase. If a parent has to change jobs and will receive less pay, they may be able to have the child support amount decreased, so they don’t overpay each month.

Reduced Hours or Job Loss

Sometimes, a parent will have reduced hours at work or may lose the job through no fault of their own. In these situations, modifying the child support order to reflect the reduced hours may be possible. If the hours increase again, this can be reversed.

Visitation Modification

If the visitation schedule changes to give the non-custodial parent more time with the child, they may be able to receive a reduced child support amount. In most cases, the modification to visitation must be significant for it to impact a change in child support.

Change in Expenses

The non-custodial parent may have a change in expenses, whether that’s providing care for a new child, court payments for a lawsuit, adding children to their heal insurance policy, or something else. If their expenses increase, they may be qualified for a reduction, especially if their pay doesn’t increase simultaneously.

How to Calculate the New Amount

Parents who want to adjust the amount of child support they will pay may want to start by looking at a child support calculator and inputting information for both parents. This will give them a good idea of the basic amount based on the new income or other modifications. The calculator is similar to what a judge will use to determine the new amount of child support, so this may give the parent a good idea of what to expect. If this amount is still not affordable based on the parent’s income and current situation, it may be possible to request an amount smaller than this calculation.

Other Ways to Lower Child Support Payments

If the child support amount is still higher than desired, it may be possible to reduce it in other ways. Adjusting time-sharing, with the non-custodial parent receiving more time with the child, can impact the monthly payment. If they have the child more frequently, they may pay less for child support because they provide food, shelter, clothing, and more at their own house.

Adding the child to a new family health insurance plan may also be possible. Since the total paid for health insurance can be a significant amount, this can help the parent pay less in child support. Parents will want to make sure the child is eligible to be added to the plan and then look into how much the plan will cost and how much it will offset the child support payments.

How to Ask for a Reduction

Paperwork and documents of any changes must be submitted to the courts for the reduction to be requested. It is crucial to do this through the courts; otherwise, the other parent can simply claim the non-custodial parent stopped making the full payments. Doing this could mean the non-custodial parent ends up owing back the difference between the ordered payments and what they paid. By going through the courts, the change is official and recorded, so there is no question as to what the amount should be each month. A parent who wants to do this should take time to speak with a lawyer about their situation and make sure they’re doing everything right to have a better chance of the reduction being approved by the judge.

The amount paid for child support each month can be lowered, but it isn’t always easy. Parents who want to reduce their child support obligation need to show a reason for the change and go through the courts to record the change. It is always recommended for the parent to work with a lawyer when requesting a reduction, as this helps increase the chance it will be successful. If you could be paying too much in child support, talk to a lawyer today about your options.