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Modifying child support payments

New York parents who are separated may wonder how and under what circumstances their child support agreements can be modified. Even if parents verbally agree on a modification, it is still necessary to make the legal change in court so that it becomes official.

Some reasons that individuals may wish to make child support modifications include unemployment on the part of either parent, a change in family income after either parent remarries, a job change, or a significant change in cost of living or the child's needs. There may also be modifications if a parent is incarcerated or disabled or if child support laws change.

Parents should also make the changes as soon as possible because child support modifications only begin once the legal process is complete. A parent is liable for any child support owed up to that point regardless of how the circumstances have changed. It is necessary for one parent to file an order in court or for parents who agree on a change to draft it into a document and then submit it to the court. The agreement should be within state guidelines so that it will be accepted.

Individuals who are negotiating child support, whether at the beginning of a divorce or in seeking a modification, may wish to speak with an attorney who can help to protect the parent's interests. For example, a custodial parent might become unemployed and need to get a larger proportion of child support from the other parent, but that parent might be resistant. Parents might also disagree about who should have primary physical custody, what the amount of support should be, visitation, and who makes decisions about children's education and health care. A judge will look at the child's best interests, and an attorney may be helpful in presenting a persuasive case to the court.

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