It was recently reported that singer Britney Spears and the father of her children, Kevin Federline, are fighting over Federline’s request for a modification of their child support order. Sources report that the father is asking for twice as much as he currently receives, and Spears’ team has reportedly denied his request.
While it can be easy to dismiss this case as nothing more than celebrity gossip, reports on the situation do highlight a few problems that can arise in any case regarding requests for support modification.
Issue 1: Questions over what might prompt a request for support
Requests for child support modifications often come on the heels of an event that substantially alters one or both parents’ financial resources. This could include everything from diagnosis of a serious medical condition to a job promotion or job loss.
However, you do not need to wait until one of you books a worldwide tour to request modification. The passage of time can also trigger a request for modification. In fact, in North Carolina, a parent can request a review of support every 36 months.
Issue 2: Disputes over spending of support
When a parent requests an increase in support, the paying parent can become defensive in regards to how the child support is being spent. In some cases, he or she may argue that the request for more money stems from financial misuse by the receiving parent.
As is the case with Spears and Federline, this could prompt the paying parent to demand an audit of the receiving parent’s spending. However, the courts generally will not order an accounting of child support spending unless a child’s well-being is in question.
Issue 3: It’s not always possible to resolve issues outside of court
Parents can negotiate a modification themselves, but understand that it is not an enforceable court order until a court signs off on it. In many cases, the issue is simply too contentious for parents to come to an agreement on their own. In other words, the courts will most likely play a role in any modification of child support.
Child support modification requests do not have to be headline-making stories, but they are significant for the parents making and responding to them. Parents in this situation can benefit from having experienced legal representation to examine the available options and seek a fair resolution.