In Pennsylvania, both parents are required to support their children until the age of 18, sometimes even longer. However, financial circumstances change and child support orders can be modified to reflect those changes. Whether you are looking to increase or decrease a child support payment, it is best to contact an experienced attorney who can help you through the process and ensure your rights and interest are protected.
Circumstances that Warrant a Child Support Modification
Before modifying any child support order, the court will want proof of what has changed since the previous award was granted. There are some general factors that a court takes into consideration when setting a child support order, including
- How much time each parent spends with the child
- All income sources for each parent
- Both parents’ assets
- Household expenses, needs and fixed financial obligations (such as a mortgage)
- The children’s ages and any special financial needs they may have
- Other relevant factors (determined on a case-by-case basis)
When seeking a child support modification, you must present evidence that one or more of these factors has changed or a new relevant factor has come to light. Regardless of the circumstances, it is critical to seek legal counsel to ensure the modification is fair. For example, if you are filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to consult a local bankruptcy lawyer who understands the ins and outs of bankruptcy law in Pennsylvania. Most full-service law firms in West Chester have attorneys who work collaboratively to develop solutions in complex cases, even if they focus on different areas of the law.
Common Grounds for Modifying a Child Support Order
- The parent who pays child support is spending more time caring for the child
- The parent receiving child support is earning more money
- The parent who pays child support is earning less money than they did previously
- The child’s educational, medical or other needs have changed since the initial order was granted
- A child is over eighteen years old and is no longer attending school
- Birth or adoption of another child
It is important to keep in mind that an award may be modified in the other parent’s favor if they present stronger arguments and evidence in response to your petition.
Seeking a Child Support Modification
Desired changes to a support order cannot be applied before you submit a petition for modification with the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) in your county. Once a completed Petition for Modification form is received, the DRS will schedule a conference and send both parties a notice indicating date, time and location to review the facts of the case and discuss the modification. Even if both parents are in agreement, they are required to submit a modification order with DRS. Parents who are incarcerated may appear by phone.
The financial repercussions of a modified child support order can be far-reaching. A divorce attorney can advise you on the most effective course of action and develop strategies that serve your interests and desired outcome.
Do you need assistance with modifying a child support order? Our family law attorneys at Carosella & Associates can help.