The court does not expect that a child support order will go unchanged for the duration of the obligation. Children’s needs change, parents’ situations change and therefore the child support order may need to change. For this reason, the Department of Human Services states that either parent can request a review of a child support case at any time.
However, to keep court dockets from becoming overloaded, the state does put a limit on requests for modification. If a case has been in court within the last two years, then when requesting a review, a parent must show there is a change in circumstances that might affect the case. If the person cannot show this, then the court may not review the case. In any situation, there must be a change in circumstances for the court to make any changes to the existing child support order.
The court will consider changes in circumstances that affect the financial aspects of each party. This might include a change in income for either parent that is significant. Legal custody changes or the birth of a new child for either party also are valid circumstances the court considers. Any change with the child that would increase or decrease financial support needs is also a circumstance that could lead to a modification ruling by the court.
Incomes changes are the most common reason for a modification request. If the parent paying support loses his or her income, the court can reduce the support obligation. However, the court will not end support due to a job loss. In addition, the change in income must be at least a 15% difference. If the law considers the person low income prior to the change, then the difference must be at least 7.5%. If there is not a significant change in income, then the court will likely not modify the order.