Contrary to the popular belief, child support orders are not everlasting, and can be modified if either of the parents can show a change in circumstances.
Unfortunately, many parents – both receiving and paying – choose to delay their decision to request a child support modification for some reason or no reason at all, even when they are clearly entitled to it. And that is a big mistake that you must avoid in order to (a) prevent bankruptcy (if you are the paying parent) or (b) make sure the child’s needs or expenses are adequately covered by child support payments.
Here at the Ault Law Firm, our Salt Lake City child support attorney has outlined a few factors that delay child support modifications as well as reasons why you should NOT wait to change the current order if there has been a change in circumstances.
When you are entitled to a child support modification
First of all, let’s the define the term “a change in circumstances.” Under Utah’s child custody laws, a change of circumstances can refer to any of the following or a combination of:
- Change in the parenting time;
- Loss of a job, diminished ability to earn or unemployment;
- The receiving parent’s acquired ability to provide for himself/herself and the child;
- The paying parent’s promotion or new job with a higher income;
- Changed standard of living;
- The receiving parent’s changed marital status or living with a partner who can provide for the child;
- Either of the parents has had another child from another relationship;
- The child’s needs or expenses have changed (education, medical or other health-related costs, etc.).
- Serious injury to the paying parent affecting their ability to pay
These and many other factors may be recognized as “a change in circumstances” in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah, entitling you to either increase or decrease the current child support amount. There are two ways of adjusting your child support payments – filing a petition to amend the agreement, or filing a motion to amend it. Your Salt Lake City child support attorney will advise on which is the most appropriate in your case.
Why you should NOT wait to request a child support modification
Waiting to start the legal process to alter the current child support order if you are no longer capable of providing the same payments as before, or, on the contrary, are in need of larger payments due to a certain change in circumstances, is the worst decision you can make.
The second worst decision is having a verbal agreement with the other parent that seemingly changes the amount of child support payments, our best child support attorneys in Salt Lake City say. You see, a verbal agreement gives you no guarantees that you are legally protected in case any legal issues arise in the long-term. After all, the receiving parent may file a claim against you alleging that you have been paying less than what your initial order says. In these cases, the paying parents are most of the times ordered to pay off the balance retroactively.
Also, our Salt Lake City child support lawyer warns that until there is a new order, the current one will remain in effect. Meaning: court proceedings hearings regarding the child support modification may take months or even years to finalize the new child support order. The sooner you request a change, the better.
You may also wish to consider having a Cost of Living Adjustment added to your child support order at this point, as this will allow for an annual increase in line with inflation, and prevent you from needing to return to court every time payments need to be adjusted.
Why parents delay modifications
Through our decades of experience in handling child support cases in Salt Lake City and all across Utah, our lawyers at the Ault Law Firm outline a few reasons why parents choose to wait when it comes to requesting a child support modification:
- Life gets in the way, leaving no time to handle those exhaustive legal actions and proceedings;
- Fear or anxiety that the outcome may be worse than expected;
- Unwillingness to go back to family court and go through it all over again;
- Fear of a reckless reaction from the other parent;
- Thinking their change of circumstances is temporary (when it is not).
How to avoid trouble
In the vast majority of cases when parents are reluctant to request a child support modification right away, hiring a Salt Lake City family law attorney may be the best option. Think about it: no need to handle the exhaustive and stressful legal process on your own; no need to fear a bad outcome (as the attorney will make sure that you get what you want); no need to go back to family court alone; no need to play the guessing game and put your livelihood and the livelihood of your child at stake.
Get a free consultation from our attorneys at the Ault Law Firm today. Call our offices at 801-539-9000 or complete our contact form to find out what is the best way to get a child support modification in your case.