The agreements parents reach when they finalize their divorce will likely not work forever. While family courts and parents try to consider the family’s future circumstances when establishing these agreements, it is not always possible to predict the future accurately.
Therefore, it is often necessary for families to modify their original agreements, such as their child support agreement, to ensure it continues to meet the child’s needs and the paying parent’s abilities.
However, how should parents go about asking for a child support modification?
As we have discussed in previous blog posts, North Carolina family courts generally prefer parents to reach agreements outside of court. That way, they can negotiate a solution that best meets their needs.
So, how do you ask your ex-spouse to reduce child support payments?
Since child support involves the well-being of one’s child and much-needed financial assistance for the other parent, approaching the subject of decreasing those payments can be a challenge. It might also still be difficult for individuals to speak with their ex-spouse, regardless of whether or not the marriage ended amicably.
Here are some tips individuals can use to reduce their stress in the conversation to modify child support:
- Make the focus on the child’s needs clear: Considering a child’s best interests is critical for divorced parents. Parents requesting a modification should clarify that they always prioritize their child’s needs. However, to continue to meet those needs, they will need to adjust the court order.
- Explain the change in circumstances: Most people understand the stress that comes with financial challenges, even an ex-spouse. Individuals should take the time to explain their situation before they ask for a modification. It is also helpful to have a record of the change in circumstances, such as a pay stub or bank statement.
- Calculate a reasonable deduction: Parents should consider the state guidelines and calculate the new amount they will be able to pay. This shows the other parent that they are still taking their responsibility to pay support seriously. It is also helpful to determine whether or not this change will be temporary. For example, many parents request a modification after they lose a job to relieve their financial stress while they search for a new job.
Of course, there are many more factors involved in the process of obtaining a child support modification. Individuals must file a motion and prove to a North Carolina family court that they have experienced a considerable change in circumstances, only to name a few of those factors. However, having this conversation first can help reduce the chance of a conflict and make the process easier for everyone.