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Client Handbook: Modifying a Support Order

If the parties agree to modify (change) their support order they may sign and file an agreement for modification at Domestic Relations. 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.

If you want to modify (change) an existing order (and the other party does not agree) you must file a petition in the Domestic Relations Section. You may file a petition on your own or consult your attorney. This petition must state the reason that you are requesting a change in the support Order. Forms are available in the office or you may contact the office and request that a form be mailed to you for completion. 

A 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 are:

  1. The parties have reconciled (gotten back together) and are living together.
  2. The parties have reached an agreement and the plaintiff (the person receiving child support) is not on public assistance.
  3. The income of one or both parties has greatly increased or decreased.
  4. There are extraordinary (unusual) and ongoing medical expenses that were not present at the time the last order was made.
  5. A child on the support order is over eighteen years old and is no longer attending school.
  6. The increased age of the child or other factors cause increased expenses.
  7. A.P.L. or spousal support is no longer required because a final decree in divorce has been granted, and all economic claims have been settled.

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.

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.

A petition must be filed to request that the order be suspended then a conference may be held to make that decision.


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