Child support payments often amount to a large portion of a person’s income. For the parent receiving support, that money is crucial for their ability to support themselves and their children. The important role that child support has in ensuring that parents are providing for children means that courts take these obligations seriously.
When a court sets the payment amounts, it must follow the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. The income levels and the child’s needs are paramount when setting an amount. Incomes and children’s’ needs can change, sometimes drastically. When the circumstances pertaining to the parties’ incomes change, the support might also need modification.
If you believe that you need to change your child support order, you should speak to a Rockville child support modification lawyer. Your child support order should reflect your current situation and not the position you were in when the court issued the order, which could have been years ago.
Why it is Important to File Petition to Modify Support
If a person loses a considerable amount of their income, they may rightly believe that the amount of child support they pay needs to change. The court will make findings of fact and run the Maryland Child Support Guidelines to determine if the amount of support you are paying is still correct. However, the court has to change the order before the person can start paying the amount they believe is now correct.
A failure to go through the court can result in the paying parent owing the other back child support, even if the parents reached an informal agreement to reduce payments. Filing a petition to modify support will mean that the court will review the change in circumstance, and if finds a change in support is warranted, it will make a new ruling with a new support order. The new payment amount will go into effect when the order does, and not at the point in time where the parent’s income level changed.
An increase in income may also potentially lead to a change in support. In general, if either parents’ income goes up or down by 25 percent or more, the court may likely find that a change in support payments is warranted. A Rockville family law attorney can help individuals understand their obligations and the likely outcome of a petition to modify support.
What Happens if a Parent Fails to Look for Work
If a parent loses their job through no fault of their own, the court will likely be sympathetic to that parent’s need to change support payments. However, if the court finds that a parent is “voluntarily impoverishing” themself, it may not allow the parent to modify their support payments based on the job loss.
In the unfortunate event that parents attempt to avoid supporting their children by not looking for work or not working, the court can impute income on that parent. When a court imputes income on a parent, they will look not at what the parent makes but at their earning capacity. The parents’ education level, past work experience, and prior income can all inform the judge about what the parent could be earning.
There are cases where a court might find that a parent truly cannot earn what they did at a previous job for any number of reasons. For example, a parent suffering from poor health may justifiably reduce their work-related obligations and income. Anyone struggling with these complicated factors should contact a Rockville child support lawyer.
Hiring a Rockville Child Support Modification Attorney
Modifying child support payments is often necessary. However, it is important to take the right steps to make those changes rather than simply trying to handle the issue on your own.
Failing to make the ordered child support payments will potentially lead to serious consequences. Remember that the state has the ability to place an earnings withholding order on a person’s pay, issue liens on their property, and even suspend their driver’s license if they get behind on court-ordered child support. The best course of action a parent can take is to contact a Rockville child support modification lawyer.