When the court issued your final divorce decree, which included terms for child custody and instructions for you to pay child support, you felt relatively at peace and ready to move on in life. Since everything was in writing, it wasn't all that complicated. You simply had to make the appropriate payments at the appropriate times through agreed-upon means.
Your visitation schedule may also have satisfied you, and, in your opinion, was as good as it could be barring the fact that you would no longer be living full time with your kids. If you are one of many parents in Maryland who has recently faced an unexpected situation that caused financial upheaval in your life, you may be wondering whether it's possible to change your child support agreement. It may be, depending on several factors. However, never stop or adjust payments without court permission.
Reasons that may justify child support modification
If you have a need to temporarily or permanently lower your child support payments, it's never a good idea to take matters into your own hands. In fact, doing so might land you in jail. There are support resources available to help you navigate the family law system if you determine a need to petition the court for modification. The following list includes some of the reasons a judge might grant such a request:
- You suffered a medical problem that either put you in the hospital or otherwise rendered you unable to work.
- Your health condition required expensive medical care; even though you can still fulfill your workplace duties, your wallet took a big hit and you're having trouble making ends meet.
- Your ex remarried, and the household income where your children live full time has substantially increased.
- You lost your job.
- You found another job but are making a lot less money now.
- You still have a job and earn roughly the same amount of income, but you relocated to an area with a much higher cost of living.
One or more of these issues may apply to your situation. Then again, your reasons for requesting a change in your child support order may be entirely different from those listed here. Either way, you can file a petition and explain your circumstances to the court; hopefully, the judge reviewing your case will grant your request.
Things to remember
Unless and until the court modifies your existing child support order, you are under a legal obligation to continue making payments according to the current terms therein. The court may hold you in contempt if you stop or lower payments without court approval. You must also prepare to show written documentation or evidence of the circumstances that prompted your request for modification.