Your child support order should reflect your children’s best interests (and the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay) at the time the judge issued it. Since then, though, circumstances could have changed. Your children’s needs from five or ten years ago might be quite different than they are today. Or your finances could bear little resemblance to when the support order went into effect — for better or worse.
Fortunately, a child support order is not set in stone in Minnesota. Either parent can go to court to ask for a modification to increase or decrease the amount of support paid. Here are four common reasons parents in St. Paul pursue a post-decree child support modification.
- Change in income. The noncustodial parent could have gotten a big raise at work or started a new job that includes a boost in income. Or they could have lost their job and been forced to take a lower-paying one that strains their ability to pay the current level of support.
- Child’s changing needs. Your child could need braces or other long-term medical or dental care that insurance alone won’t cover. Or they might have taken up a sport or other extracurricular activity that costs money. Another possibility is that they were accepted into an expensive private school.
- New children. If the noncustodial parent has subsequent children, they must provide financially for those kids as well. They might not be able to pay their older children the same level of support anymore.
- Incarceration. A parent who is serving a jail or prison sentence may be unable to pay child support. Minnesota law allows an incarcerated parent to seek a temporary reduction or pause on child support until they are released and able to earn an income again.
Parents often disagree if a modification is necessary. As a custodial parent, you need to ensure that your children’s needs are provided for. From the other perspective, you should not be forced to pay more child support than you can afford. A reasonable compromise is possible in most cases, but sometimes parents must go to court to argue before the judge.