For fathers who have a responsibility to pay child support to their ex-spouse, it can sometimes be difficult to meet child support payments. This may be because of a job loss or a sudden healthcare emergency. It’s important that fathers who are struggling to make payments are aware of what they need to do. Failing to make support payments can have serious consequences if you don’t take any steps to remedy the situation.

Notify the Court About Your Situation

It’s essential that the first step you take is to tell the court about your financial circumstances. When a support order is created, judges base their calculations on each parent’s income and earning capacity, among other factors. If your income changes, so should your child support payments. Child support orders are not immutable; they can be modified for certain reasons, including:

  • The Support Order Was Unfair

    If you have always had difficulty meeting your support payments, the original order may have been incorrectly calculated. Judges calculate based on each parent’s income, and the non-custodial parent helps the custodial parent pay for their child’s expenses. A non-custodial parent shouldn’t be paying much more than they were when their children were living with them. There is a possibility that calculations were made incorrectly and need to be reevaluated.

  • There Has Been a Significant Change in Circumstances

    Support orders can also be modified if there is a significant change in a family’s life. A change includes:

    an increase or decrease in either spouse’s income:

    • A change in any party’s financial needs
    • A spouse’s remarriage
    • Relocation
    • New children
    • New support orders
    • A change in custody orders
    • Incarceration

    It’s better if you can request a modification before you have missed a child support payment. The courts are more likely to be lenient and grant modifications in that case. If you have missed support payments, you should still request a modification, but do so as soon as possible. Otherwise, the court will believe you’re refusing to pay child support.

Work Towards Making Payments and Talk With Your Ex-Spouse

Once you’ve requested an order modification, it’s in your interests to continue to try to make payments. During the hearing for modification, the court will likely ask what made you unable to meet your payments and what you are doing to remedy that. The courts will be more lenient with a parent who is trying to earn the income to pay for their child’s needs and working with the child’s guardian.

  • Show Your Plan: If you can present your efforts to pay back delinquent payments and make current support payments, the court may be more open to hearing your case.
  • Work With Your Co-Parent: If you are requesting a modification, be sure to talk with the custodial parent of your child. The modification will affect them, too, so it’s important that they know about it for your child’s care. You can also work out a payment schedule with your co-parent for your support payments.
  • Make Partial Payments: This shows the court that you are trying to make the payments and ensures your children are partially cared for.
  • Look for Additional Income: Keep proof of your job applications, secondary jobs, gig work, and other sources of income, showing that you are trying to meet the obligations.
  • Work With an Attorney: An attorney can help you avoid court costs and fines and advocate for your needs and interests during the modification hearing. This can save you money in the long run.

Failing to Pay Child Support

You never want to stop paying child support. If you fail to meet court order requirements, several legal consequences include:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license and/or your professional license
  • Garnishment of your wages to pay for child support
  • Liens on your property
  • Negative impact on your credit score
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Criminal charges and even felony charges for significant delinquent payments

That’s why it’s essential to request a modification as soon as you have a long-term financial or life change that affects your ability to pay for child support. You want to avoid delinquency in your child support payments, both for yourself and to ensure your children are supported.


Q: How Do I Modify Child Support?

A: You can file to modify child support with the court that issued the support order. This can be done if there is a significant and material change in either parent’s or the child’s life circumstances. This includes:

  • Increased financial needs of the child
  • Increase or decrease in the income or resources of either parent
  • Loss of employment
  • Relocation of either parent
  • Remarriage

Q: Can Child Support Be Lowered If I Have Another Child?

A: Having another child could be a significant reason to modify child support. It depends on your financial situation and the finances of your ex-spouse. However, some courts may only allow a modification if paying your support payments will harm your new child. If it doesn’t, the court may keep payments the same.

Q: Can a Mother Cancel Child Support?

A: No, only the court is able to legally waive a parent’s required child support payments. Neither parent is able to officially end payments outside of court. Either parent can file a request for modification with the court if the request is reasonable and based on a significant change. Also, if the initial support order was unfair, there may be reason to modify it. Generally, the court will not cancel support orders until the child is 18 or no longer in high school.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation?

A: Once a child turns 18, they no longer have to follow custody and visitation rules. Prior to turning 18, a child’s wishes are heard when determining custody and parenting time, but courts do not have to take a child’s wishes into account. The court generally believes that it’s in the child’s interests to spend time with both parents, even if that is against the child’s wishes. However, parenting time can be modified, and each year a child is closer to the age of 18, the more likely the court will listen to their wishes.

Working With an Attorney for Modification

If you are a father looking for a reasonable modification of support orders, contact Stange Law Firm today to see how our experienced attorneys can help you.