Understanding child support modification

When courts make child custody decisions, they also determine how much child support, if any, one parent must pay the other. This support order remains in effect until the child turns 18 or emancipates.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Support Program, there are state guidelines that determine support obligations, and they depend largely on each parent’s income. Certain circumstances allow for a child support modification request.

How to petition for a support modification

Either parent can file a petition for modification. This individual must file the petition with the court that made the original support order, and the petitioner must explain the reason for the modification request.

Acceptable reasons for filing a petition for child support modification

A judge only considers a modification request when there is a material and substantial change in circumstances. One of the reasons for modification approval may include a substantial increase in the child’s medical coverage or childcare expenses.

According to FindLaw, a common reason for filing a modification petition is a change in income. This change may be an increase or decrease, and it must be a significant amount that affects the party long-term.

Custody changes also may result in child support modification. If the shared parenting time changes, and the child spends at least 40% of overnights with the parent making the support payments, there is usually a modification. The courts may also approve a modification request if there are multiple families involved and support payments equal more than 50% of the monthly net income.

A judge may also approve a modification request if there is a revision of the support guidelines, or if the two parties come up with a private agreement.


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