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Modification of Child Support

Modification of Child Support

How Child Support Orders are Modified

If you are paying or receiving child support pursuant to a court order, it may be modified upwards or downwards if any of the following conditions are met:,

  • a substantial change in circumstances
  • three years have passed since the order was issued, for orders made on or after October 13, 2010, or
  • a 15% or more increase or decrease in either parent’s income since the original order was issued for orders orders made on or after October 13, 2010
  • objecting to a COLA adjustment

1. Substantial Change in Circumstances

A substantial change of circumstances may generally be established if one of the following are shown:

  1. The needs of the child are not being met by the existing order of support, or
  2. There has been an unanticipated change in circumstances which warrants a modification of the order, or
  3. The original order of support was not fair when it was initially made

The party seeking to modify the order must allege one or more in sufficient detail as a threshold matter, or the application could be dismissed without a hearing. The standard here is to assume all claims are true, and if so, would it trigger a modification. Failure to meet this threshold can result in the matter being dismissed without a hearing.

If the claims are sufficient to get past this preliminary phase, then a hearing is normally scheduled and the party seeking the modification must prove the alleged claims to be true.

(a) The needs of the child are not being met

A parent using this standard must show that the current order is insufficient to meet the current needs of the child. Detailed expenses must be shown, as well as available resources. If known, a proposed guideline award can be argued to help show the additional support would bridge any deficit.

(b) Unanticipated Change in Circumstances which Warrants a Modification

An unanticipated change of circumstances consists of two elements; the change of circumstances and that the change was not contemplated when the original order or agreement was entered. For example, if the custodial parent is receiving both child support and maintenance for a set number of years, the termination of maintenance will not be sufficient to warrant a modification. While it is a change of circumstances, it is not unanticipated since its duration was known at the time of the original order.

(c) The Original Order of Support was Unfair 

If for whatever reason a court concludes the initial order was inequitable or unfair, that finding is generally sufficient to trigger a modification

2. Three years have Passed Since the Order was Issued

For child support orders issued on or after October 13, 2010, the passage of three years is sufficient to warrant a modification.

3. 15% Change in Income by Either Parent

If the original order is dated October 13, 2010 or later, a 15% change in either parent's income will be sufficient to trigger a modification. However, a decrease in income cannot be intentional and there must be a showing of efforts to secure suitable employment.

4. Objecting to a COLA increase

If an objection is made to a COLA increase, a new calculation of child support will be made


Read More: Child Support Part 3: Modifications of Child Support

Read More: Child Support Part 1: Calculating Child Support in New York


Call for a Free Phone Consultation or to Schedule a Low Cost Office Consultation

If you have have additional questions, contact our office to learn about your legal options in seeking or defending against a modification of child support. To get your free phone consultation or to make an appointment, call (631) 864-2600. Serving clients in Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester. Rockland, Orange and other surrounding counties are accepted on a case by case basis.

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