“How do I reduce my child support obligation?”
Child support obligations are usually initially determined in one of three ways: a divorce proceeding, an initial custody determination, or a DHS support action. While DHS may periodically review child support cases (usually to request an increase in child support), many cases are not reviewed, and may remain at a fixed level for many years.
A suit to change the amount of child support is called a modification action. There are a couple of ways a modification can be instituted.
First, DHS can institute a modification action based on a change in income. Generally, DHS will not conduct a review/modification for three years following either an initial determination of the support level or a change in the support level.
DHS modification actions generally only address the support amount, not issues of custody or visitation. Also, DHS modification actions are limited to cases where DHS actually handles the withholding of child support. In other words, it is limited to cases where child support has been initiated by DHS or when child support money passes through DHS, such as in the case where a wage withholding order has been entered. DHS does not modify amounts where the method of child support payment has been ordered paid directly from one parent to another.
Second, a child support obligor can hire a private attorney to institute a modification action. A private action for modification may address issues of child support, custody and visitation.
How does one know which of these methods to choose? Consultation with an attorney is key.
While a written request to DHS for a child support review has the benefit of being free, such a course can actually be harmful to an obligor’s future chances if the modification is unsuccessful. And, as mentioned earlier, DHS will not modify a child support obligation for which it does not process payments.
If you are contemplating a child support modification action, call or email attorney Jay Hurdle to set up your free consultation today.