Can a child support order be modified?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Paternity/Child Support on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

In an earlier post, we discussed how child support is calculated. In Missouri, either the court or the Family Support Division can enter a child support order. Form 14 provides guidelines for calculating child support, but the court or FSD can choose to award a different amount than what the guidelines suggest. Once a child support order has been entered, the law favors keeping that order in place to ensure stability for children. As a result, modification of child support is difficult, yet possible.

This post is only intended to provide an overview of how and when a child support order can be modified. To learn more about child support modification, speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Missouri law provides that child support can be modified only if your case meets certain requirements. Specifically, you must be able to prove a change in circumstances that is so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of the child support order unreasonable. In other words, you need to show that modification is necessary given your new circumstances. Examples of such changed circumstances include:

  • You or the other parent had a significant change in income through job loss or a change in employment. The change in income must be 20% or more.
  • There has been a change in visitation or custody of your child.
  • Either you or the other parent has remarried.
  • Your child’s needs have changed. For example, your child has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
  • Your or the other parent has become permanently disabled.

You must also know where to go to request the modification. If your child support order was entered by the court, you need to go back to court to get it modified. You will need to file a motion to modify child support.

On the other hand, if your child support order was entered by the FSD, you can have order modified by either FSD or the court. To request the modification from the FSD, you must submit a letter that contains specific information, including your contact information and the reason for your request.

Even if you and the other parent agree on a new child support amount, you must still request the court or the FSD to modify the original child support order. Otherwise, the original child support order remains in effect.

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