Modification of Child Support Order

After the final child support order is in place, either parent may seek a modification of the order under certain situations. There are three circumstances under which the court may modify the child support order:

  1. Substantial change in circumstances — if there have been substantial changes to the cost of raising a child or to a parent’s income, the court may modify the child support order to make it either higher or lower.
  2. Three years have elapsed since the order was entered, last modified or adjusted — once three years have elapsed, either parent can seek a modification (upward or downward), and the court has the authority to look again at the income calculations that went into the basic child support obligation.
  3. There has been an involuntary change in either party’s gross income by 15% or more since the order was entered, last modified, or adjusted — if either parent has suffered an involuntary 15% decrease in income, and that parent is actively seeking higher paying work, that parent can seek a downward modification of child support.

The above circumstances may be waived in a stipulation of settlement. If your circumstances change substantially or you lose your job, it is important to seek modification as soon as possible.  The court cannot change the terms of child support until you file a petition for modification. For example, if your income has fallen substantially and you wait to file for a downward modification, you will still owe any arrears even if your current income does not support that level of child support payment until the date you file for a downward modification.

Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), the state that issued the child support order retains jurisdiction over the order. If the other parent has had absolutely no contact with New York, you cannot enforce the order through New York courts. However, you can get a withholding order sent to the new state, which will specify the details of the support order and the amount to be withheld.

Legal Editor:  Jody N. Gerber, April 2015

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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