Can I Modify My Child Support?

Whether your income has taken a hit or your ex got that big raise, an Ohio family law attorney can help

Think you’re stuck with the child support agreement the court dished out in your divorce settlement? If you’re the parent tasked with paying support but your paycheck keeps shrinking, or if you’re on the receiving end and your ex suddenly seems to be living much more comfortably, it could be time for a child support modification.

But how is child support adjusted? And what constitutes a “material change in circumstances”? Find out from your Ohio family law attorneys.

How is child support in Ohio determined?

There are a number of factors that determine child support. In all instances when assessing support, the court uses a guideline worksheet that includes a number of important factors, including your ex’s income, your income, additional children or support obligations either of you may have, as well as daycare and health insurance costs for the children of this marriage.

But the court’s decision isn’t set in stone. Significant changes in the factors that determined the original support order could justify a change.

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My spouse received a significant raise after we divorced. Can my child support be increased?

Yes—depending on a number of factors. There are two ways to modify the support: either through an administrative review by the Child Support Enforcement Agency, or by court order upon a motion from either parent.

Either parent can ask for an administrative review or adjustment of the child support order not less than 36 months from the date the order was established or the last time it was reviewed.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, a review means “a caseworker looks at both parties’ income and information to see if child support should be changed or if health insurance should be added or changed.” Then the caseworker decides if an adjustment is warranted, meaning an upward or downward change in the amount of child support based on the application of the Ohio guidelines, or adding or changing provisions for the child(ren)’s health care needs through health insurance.

Either parent may also file a motion to modify the support order with the court at any time. The court will schedule the motion for a hearing, and issue new orders after testimony and evidence regarding income and expenses has been provided.

Under either method, child support is only modifiable if the requesting parent can demonstrate a “material change in circumstances” to the child or the custodial parent after the last order was issued. A material change also includes a change in the needs of the child. Issues the court has already ruled on cannot be heard again.

The agency or court must decide if a change in circumstances exists and, if so, determine the proper amount of the new support order.

When considering a motion child support modification, the court must recalculate the amount of support using the same child support worksheet and guidelines as before. If the recalculated amount differs by more than 10 percent than the amount of support required under the existing order, then that difference alone can be considered a material change in circumstances substantial enough to justify a financial adjustment.

Possible outcomes of child support modification include:

  1. No change
  2. Increase in current child support
  3. Decrease in current child support
  4. Addition of a medical support order

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My income has taken a hefty cut since my divorce. Can I pay less child support?

Just as support can be increased, it can also be decreased if you can show a material change in circumstances. You can either go to the CSEA for an administrative review or ask the court to modify your support. Whichever route you take, there are no guarantees. And remember, by having your case reviewed, you also take on the risk of your support being increased or simply staying the same.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, common reasons for qualifying for a review and adjustment include:

In addition, some circumstances exist that would allow you to ask for an early review, including:

Get advice from the Ohio family law experts

Don’t become overwhelmed with your child support orders. When it comes to child support and custody, turn to the lawyers at Babbitt & Dahlberg and let us fight for your parental rights. Get in touch with us at 614-228-4200 or fill out our quick online form to schedule a consultation today.

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