Modifying (Changing) a Support Order
Petition to Modify
If you have an active support case in domestic relations and want a portion or all of your order changed you may do either of the following:
If Parties Are in Agreement
You can send in a written agreement, signed by both parties, which states the effective date of the modification, what is to be modified (example: the modified amount, added day care amount, etc.), and it must include the net income of both parties. You must include a photo ID of each party, or have the agreement notarized. A telephone number should be included in case there are any questions or other information is needed. There is no filing fee for agreements.
If Parties Are Not in Agreement
If there is no agreement, one of the parties may file a Petition to Modify, asking the court to schedule the matter for a conference to determine whether or not the support order should be changed. You may file a petition on your own or consult your attorney.
Reasons to ModifyA support order can be changed by petition only if there has been a substantial change of circumstances (important events or problems that happened) since the order was made. Some reasons why your support order may be changed include:
- The parties have reconciled (gotten back together) and are living together.
- The parties have reached an agreement and the plaintiff (the person receiving child support) is not on public assistance.
- The income of one or both parties has greatly increased or decreased.
- There are extraordinary (unusual) and ongoing medical expenses that were not present at the time the last order was made.
- A child on the support order is over eighteen years old and is no longer attending school.
- The increased age of the child or other factors cause increased expenses.
- Alimony pendente lite (APL) or spousal support is no longer required because a final decree in divorce has been granted, and all economic claims have been settled.
Why You Should File Quickly
Changes to support orders usually become effective no earlier than the date that the modification petition is filed. This means that, unless you were unable to file the modification petition because of happenings that were beyond your control, changes to support orders cannot be applied to the time period before you filed the petition.
Therefore, it is very important for the parties to petition the court as soon as possible after experiencing a change in circumstances. Any changes to a support order will be retroactive (go back) to the date the petition to modify was started, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties.
Suspending a Support Order
Parties may suspend (stop) a support order at any time if they both agree, as long as the children are not on welfare. If the parties do not agree, one of them may petition to have the support order suspended. To suspend the order, the parties may come to Domestic Relations and sign a suspension order. The support order will be stopped once the suspension order is signed by a judge.
If a petition must be filed to request that the order be suspended, a conference may be held to make that decision.
The appropriate court officer may modify or terminate the existing order in any manner based upon the evidence presented. The trier of fact may increase, decrease, or terminate the existing order based upon the evidence presented. An order may be entered against either party without regard to which party filed the modification petition:
- Per 1910.19(b), after a party has filed a petition for modification, the petition may not be withdrawn unless both parties consent.
- Per 1910.19(g)2, if the modification order results in a credit balance and there is no charging order in effect, the defendant may file for recovery of the overpayment, within one year of the termination of the charging order.