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What circumstances allow for a child support modification?

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2023 | Child Support

Child support in Louisiana often lasts for years after parents divorce or separate. Those paying support often resent the obligation and feel like it is a burden, while those receiving child support often very deeply believe that it does not cover nearly enough of the costs related to raising a child.

When Louisiana courts order one parent to pay child support, the amount that one parent pays is a reflection of how much time they have with the children and also the income of both parents, as well as a few other secondary factors. When is it possible for the parent receiving support or the parent paying support to ask for a modification that changes the amount of child support in Louisiana?

After a significant change in circumstances

Generally, the courts will not revisit a child support order unless there is reason to believe that family circumstances have changed enough to significantly alter the amount of support paid. However, parents can request a review after three years to see if a change in support is appropriate. To seek a modification before three years have passed, there should be proof of a change in income or costs that would alter the current child support order by 25% or more. A child’s medical emergency that results in a sudden surge in their care costs might justify a modification, as might a parent’s loss of a job or promotion.

Any other significant change in circumstances, including an adjustment in the division of parenting time, might also lead to a modification. The parent requesting the review and adjustment of the child support order will typically need to have documentation supporting their claim that household costs or income has changed or that other factors have shifted in a way that necessitates an update to the existing support order.

When is a change significant enough?

Evaluating one’s circumstances objectively can be a challenge. People often have emotional responses both to the receipt of child support and to the obligation to pay it. There are simplified online calculators that can help someone estimate if their situation would result in a difference in their child support obligations, although those calculators often deviate a bit from state standards.

Many parents hoping to request a modification either to seek more support because of increased household costs or to reduce what they pay may benefit from discussing the specifics of their situation at length with a legal professional who is familiar with Louisiana’s child support statutes. That way, they can make truly informed decisions about their circumstances.