How to Get Child Support Modification

How to Get Child Support Modification

Child support modification may be granted after one of three circumstances occur. In RI, child support is based on the parties income and available resources support. And that information, along with some other factors such as daycare costs, medical insurance costs, or the number of other minor children, is what is plugged into the “guidelines” to calculate child support. There are three general events that can occur that will trigger the ability to review and modify child support. Any request for child support modification will need to be accompanied by a court financial disclosure form.

Grounds to Modify Child Support

If there is a “significant change in circumstances” as it related to the factors set above, then the courts will “open the door” to a review. Notice that part one is to open the door for a review. Whether there is a change after the review is the second part. The judge determines what constitutes a significant change in circumstances. One change is if income changes by 10% up or down. Another Is if the number of minor children changes. And yet another could be changed in the variables used to originally calculate the support order.

There are two other ways to “open the door” for the right for a child support modification. Technically, they are “significant changes in circumstances” as first described above. First, by statute, the courts will consider there to be a change in circumstances automatically if it has been more than three years since the existing child support order was entered. The other method to a review occurs automatically every time Child Support Guidelines are updated, which occurs every five years or so.

Modifying Child Support

(Try our RI Child Support Calculator)

Now that the door is open for child support modification, the courts will recalculate support based on all the factors set out at the beginning of this topic to come up with the new support order. Generally, if you get this far there will be a change, however, it court be very small.

Example: Bob and Lisa have two children and have been divorced for two years. Bob is paying child support to Lisa per the “guidelines.” Lisa has another child with her new husband. Lisa gets a pay raise of 20%. Bob files for a change in support. Both the new child and the pay raise constitute a significant change in circumstances. The door is open, but the support only changes by 50 cents per week. In this case, the pay raise would by itself reduce Bob’s support obligation. But when calculating support, Lisa now gets a deduction from her new income for her new child, balancing out the change.


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