Saturday, February 17, 2007

Modifying the Decree: Child Support

Financial circumstances change between the time the court sets the original child support order and emancipation of the child. The law recognizes this fact of life. What some people still do not understand is that there is no such thing as an automatic increase (or decrease) in child support. If the parties do nothing, then there is no change of support.

I suggest that everyone who has support obligations bookmark Indiana's online child support calculator.

Child support modification requires a substantial and continuous change in circumstances so as to make the terms unreasonable, or there has been a change of more than a twenty percent (20%) in the past 12 months from the amount ordered by the court. "Substantial and continuous change" certainly means any serious decrease or increase in income of either parent.

Now, if you have bookmarked the child support calculator, you can calculate the child support yourself. Unless you and the other party exchange income information yearly, you need to consider your calculations as ballpark estimates. What this gives you is an idea if you need to call an attorney to file a modification.

As I said, modification is not automatic. You must file a Petition for Modification of Child Support, have it served on the other party, and then set the matter for a hearing. Between filing and hearing, the parties will conduct discovery and get current and accurate financial information. The parties can agree to a change in the amount of support or leave the matter for decision by a judge.

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