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Learn about changing a child support order

Find out why you may seek to change your support order and how the court decides on modification.

There may be a number of reasons why you might seek to change your support order. If the court has made an order requiring that a parent pay child support, the only way to legally change that order is to go back to the court that entered the order. Changes are usually called “modifications.”  

Common reasons for seeking changes to support orders

The several most common reasons for seeking child support modifications are:  

  1. There is a difference between the amount of child support being paid and the amount that should be paid under the Child Support Guidelines
  2. Health insurance that was available at reasonable cost is no longer available or is now too expensive
  3. A parent can now get affordable health insurance that was not available in the past
  4. Any other material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred, such as a loss of job or unemployment income, a change in a child’s living arrangements, etc.

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What you need to know about changing your support

If the order of child support is part of a document that is a judgment (divorce judgment, judgment on complaint for custody-parenting time-support, etc.) then you must file a complaint for modification. As with all Probate and Family Court judgments and orders, a modification can be sought by one parent or by both parents together if they agree on the change.

How the court decides on child support modifications

The judge will look at what the current order of child support is, listen to the parties about what circumstances may have changed since that order was made, and review the financial statements and child support guidelines. The Child Support Guidelines look at your income, your expenses, how much time the child lives with each parent, the ages of the children, and other factors. The judge may also look at available health insurance options for both parents.

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