How a Non-Custodial Parent Can Reduce Child Support Payments

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How a Non-Custodial Parent Can Reduce Child Support Payments

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Reduction in child support payments only occurs for legitimate reasons. Child support payments are a right of the child, not the custodial parent. The purpose of these monthly payments is to ensure your child continues to live as though both parents were together. It is how the court ensures your child receives the full financial support of both parents.

Little boy sitting on a man's lap working at a table

But sometimes a reduction in these payments is warranted. Below you will find steps on how to take action on your own.

1. Look at your state guidelines.

Each state has different guidelines for calculating child support, which can be based on your ability to pay, the needs of your child, and the income of the other parent, among many other factors.

You can usually find this information on your state's child support website. You will have to provide reasoning for why you believe your monthly payments should be reduced. For example, if your income has decreased, or you lost your job altogether, then you'll want to indicate as such.

2. File a motion to modify child support.

Once you've determined you have a legitimate reason to reduce your payments, it's time to file a motion to modify your child support. You should file this motion in the same court where your original child support order was granted.

If you need assistance, you can contact the county clerk's office. While they cannot provide you with legal advice, the clerk can provide you with a form to fill out that will serve as your motion. On this form, you need to provide a specific reason(s) why you should receive a reduction. After you've finished filling it out, you'll have to provide a copy to your child's other parent.

3. Attend the hearing on the motion to modify child support.

After you have filed the motion and provided a copy to your child's other parent, you will need to schedule a hearing on your motion. This will provide both you and your child's other parent the opportunity to speak in front of a judge and make your case.

At the hearing, you should be prepared to show evidence of why your payments should be reduced. If you have recently had a reduction in pay, then bringing a new paystub with you showing your reduced pay would be good evidence. But also remember that your child's other parent will argue that the court should not reduce your child support payments. You should be prepared to rebut these arguments.

If your arguments are successful, the judge may then reduce your child support payments. But until a judge rules that your payments are reduced, you cannot reduce the payments on your own by paying less. The court will view this negatively; it could also result in your loss of some child custody benefits.

When you are trying to change your child custody payments on your own, these are the steps involved to ensure that you receive a fair outcome.

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