Even though many Indianans have experienced some prosperity over the last decade, the recent economic downturn may have left you without enough funds to cover your monthly expenses. You may have even lost your job. While you may have some flexibility with your rent or utilities, you must continue to pay child support pursuant to your existing court order.
Failing to pay child support may have serious legal consequences. Therefore, if you have lost much or all of your income, it may be worthwhile to explore modifying your support order.
Proving a change in circumstances
If you want to ask a judge to change your existing support order, you must have a change in circumstances. In simple terms, this means something is meaningfully different now than it was when a judge issued your support order. While many situations may constitute a change in circumstances, here are some common ones:
- You have lost your job
- You have experienced a reduction in working hours
- Your employer has cut your pay
- You have sustained an injury or acquired an illness
- You have moved to a different location
You should realize that minor or temporary changes in circumstances are often insufficient to support a child support modification. On the contrary, the change must be ongoing and substantial. Typically, there must also be no ready means to remedy the situation.
Waiting to file a request
Even if you have a meaningful change in circumstances that adversely affects your ability to pay child support, you may not be able to seek a modification of your support order. That is, Indiana law requires paying parents to wait at least 12 months after issuance of their initial orders before filing a modification motion. Also, the modification you request must be at least 20% different from the existing order.
With some luck, the current economic climate will not last forever. Still, if you are unable to keep up with your child support payments, you likely do not want to leave your circumstances to chance. By understanding how to modify an Indiana support order, you can choose the appropriate course of action for you and your family.