Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Determining when to ask for child support modification

A noncustodial parent who is paying child support and who experiences an adverse change in financial circumstances may be able to request a support modification order. However, it is important to know where the modification request should be submitted. This is important because filing in a particular state may be more advantageous to whoever is making the request as many states have their own ways of calculating support obligations.

If a state does not have jurisdiction, it cannot make a ruling, and a petition to modify a current support order would have to be filed elsewhere. To clarify the jurisdictional issue, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act is designed to determine where such a request can be made. It says that a state has jurisdiction as long as the person making the payments, the person receiving the payments or the child has a connection to that state.

In the event that a child's parents live in two different states, an order from the child's home state takes precedence. Should no order exist from the child's home state, the most recent ruling from a state with jurisdiction in the matter is the controlling order.

Child support payments are designed to protect the best interests of a child. Therefore, support must be paid as ordered until such a time that the order is changed or expires. Those who wish to change the amount that they pay may wish to obtain the assistance of an attorney who has experience in family law matters. If there has been a significant change in circumstances, a judge may agree to a modification of the support order.

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