Understanding Child Support Modifications

Understanding Child Support Modifications
May 15, 2024

If you and your child’s other parent are divorced or otherwise separated, then there may be a child support order in place. Though these decrees are typically binding for a set time period, there are some exceptions that can allow for a modification. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC our skilled child custody attorneys understand that situations change. We can help if your circumstances have shifted and you need to make a modification to an existing child support order.

When Modification Is Possible

Under specific conditions, either parent is able to request a modification of a child support determination. When might this request become necessary? 

For a custodial parent, a modification request may indicate that their child-related expenses have increased. It could also be true that expenses have remained consistent, but that their available income has dramatically decreased. In either scenario, new circumstances could prompt them to look into child support modification.

If a parent is the provider of court-ordered child support and their income or life situation dramatically changes, they may also be eligible to request that a review and a new determination are made. 

Parents can make a modification request when they experience changes in any of the following areas:

  • Income: substantial increase or decrease
  • Employment: job loss, promotion, new employment, or a health challenge that impacts earning ability
  • Needs of the child: medical or educational expenses, changes in living arrangements
  • Custody arrangements: switch from joint to sole custody

These situational changes can open up the way for a child support modification whether the change has occurred since the original order, or after a previous modification has already been made.

Child Support Modification and Timing: CSEA vs. Court

In general, Ohio child support orders are naturally eligible for review once every three years. This means that if a significant change occurs at the three year mark or later, you can file a request through your local Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). If you opt for this method, then you:

  • do not have to pay court costs
  • can complete the initial review by mail or over the phone
  • do not have to “serve” the other parent with child support papers
  • may have an option of a faster appeal process if you don’t agree with the CSEA’s recommendations
  • will need to provide evidence of your claims and submit relevant paperwork

You may also be eligible to file a request for review through the CSEA if it has been less than three years since the last determination but you meet the following criteria: you have been unemployed or laid off (through no fault of your own) for more than 30 days, or have experienced an income change of at least 30% (through no fault of your own) for at least six months’ time. 

Once the CSEA has reached their recommended modified child support order, and if there are no objections from either parent, it will go into effect on the first day of the following month.

However, in cases where the county CSEA is not able to review your order, or if your life circumstances change drastically and the change occurs prior to the three year review, you can work with an experienced child custody attorney to submit a request to the court. If this is what you choose to pursue, then you can expect to:

  • appear in court in person and explain your situation to the judge or magistrate, and pay court costs
  • be required to provide evidence that supports your claims
  • be given more flexible consideration regarding employment than you will likely receive from the CSEA
  • be required to “serve” the other parent with child support papers
  • encounter a potentially slower and more complicated process

If a request for the court to reconsider your child support determination is in the cards for you, then it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced child custody attorney who can ensure that you are well represented and that your concerns are heard. The court will then examine the evidence you have provided and make their determination. It could be that they adjust the child support amount, or it may remain similar. In either case, you will be expected to continue to pay the original support determination while your case is pending before the court.

Work With An Experienced Ohio Child Support Attorney

Modifying child support can be a crucial step to ensure that you and your child get the consideration and financial support you deserve. If your situation changes and you can no longer provide the same level of child support, then you may need a new determination to reflect your new reality. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC our skilled child custody attorneys specialize in guiding you through the complexities of child support modification. Our experienced attorneys can help to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, and that the outcome is in your child’s best interest. If you have questions or would like to work with us on your child support case, please get in touch!