You went through the divorce process a while ago and have been making monthly support payments for your children ever since. You have been fine with this up until now, when your economic situation took a turn for the worse. Now you are wondering if your child support order is set in stone or if the state of Alabama allows you to change it if you need to.
Believe it or not, you may be able to get a child support order modification. You can do this in one of three ways.
Negotiate with your ex
If you are struggling to meet your support obligation due to a change in your income level, you can talk to your ex and try to work out a new arrangement without having to go to court. You can do this privately but it is recommended that you have the assistance of legal counsel. If you can reach an agreement, whether it is permanent or temporary, you should document the change so that your ex cannot take you to court for failure to pay. The new agreement can be sent to court for approval.
Some child support orders include a cost of living clause. If your order has this clause, you may be able to file for a support adjustment without ever having to set foot in a courtroom. A judge will simply review your request, your current support order and your financial documentation and then decide if a modification is justified.
If negotiating a new child support agreement with your ex is not working or your order does not have any clauses that permit a support adjustment, you can file an official modification request in court. It is important to file this request with the same court in which your current support order originated.
In going this route, you and your ex may need to attend a hearing at which both parties will be able to present their cases for or against the modification request. A judge will then make a final decision on the matter.
A child support order is not always set in stone. Courts understand that parents may experience a change in economic circumstances at some point. While this may be the case, it does not mean that support adjustments are easy to come by. If you are in need of a child support modification, a family law attorney may be able to assist you.