When can a child support order be changed?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2020 | Divorce |

A child support order is established according to predetermined guidelines. Using a Guideline Table, the court takes into account the combined income of both parents as well as the number of children that need to be supported. From there, the court pinpoints a dollar figure. Other factors, such as medical costs or daycare expenses, may also play a role.

But life is full of changes. Some changes are gradual, others abrupt. What if an established child support order no longer makes sense?

Modifying a child support order

New Hampshire law does provide parents an opportunity to request a modification to an existing child support order. This change must be approved by the court.

However, you can only request a modification in two specific situations: It has been three years or more since the order was last modified, or there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” for one parent.

What is a ‘substantial’ change?

Generally, anything that makes the current child support order unfair might be considered a substantial change in circumstances. This could include:

  • A job loss
  • A new job or promotion with a significant increase in pay
  • A severe illness that impacts one parent’s income
  • A medical condition that increases the cost of caring for the child
  • A large inheritance

Simply experiencing one of the examples above does not automatically guarantee the court will approve a modification. You still have to demonstrate that the change was indeed substantial, and that it calls for an increase or decrease to child support payments.

Under New Hampshire law, both parents are expected to provide financial support to their children, no matter the status of their relationship. This means the courts are not keen to modify child support on a whim. Securing a new order often requires presenting clear evidence that shows why such a change is needed.