Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson
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Changing child support amounts amid life's ups and downs

Some people thrive amid change. Most we venture to suggest, however, would rather maintain a certain level of routine in their lives. Unfortunately, there are usually elements over which we have little or no control.

This can prove to be a particular concern for divorced or unmarried parents in Ohio as they try to do the best they can for their children. For example, an agreed upon or court ordered level of child support might have worked under circumstances at the time they were first put in place. But if the paying parent loses a job, suffers a debilitating injury or experiences another significant change, modifying the existing support decree might be called for.

This isn't something done by parental agreement alone. The courts will want a say in what happens to safeguard the best interests of the child or children. But there are steps you can take to make modification approval more likely.

Take action swiftly. As soon as you know you can't meet current support obligations, take action. Speak with the other parent about conditions that make the change necessary. See if you can agree on acceptable new terms.

Become informed. Consult with an attorney. State law will have something to say about whether your life change is significant enough to warrant modification. The state will be especially interested in making sure the best interests of the child or children will still be served.

Do your best to meet the existing obligation. It might be difficult to manage, but slipping into arrears on child support can hurt your cause for modification. The court would rather see you making your best effort than making no effort at all. Also, you'll be expected to make up unpaid support at some point later.

Document your current reality. To support your modification request, provide paperwork explaining the specifics of your life change. If you lost your job, show evidence that you're trying to find new work.

File your request with the proper court. The change has to be sought from the same court that issued your original decree. You have to obtain a new order for any change to take effect. You must also make sure that the papers you submit to the court are served to the other parent. 

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