One thing many people don’t know about child support is that the amount that is determined by the courts when you divorce is not set in stone forever. Child support payment amounts can be changed for many reasons, including change in income, change in need, and change in custody. Though the payment amount can be changed, it does take some effort and typically a court order.
So what can you do if you change jobs and find yourself unable to make your child support payments? The first thing you should do is have a conversation with your ex and explain the situation. If your ex is willing to agree to a change in payment amount, making the switch is as simple as getting the judge to approve the change.
If your ex doesn’t agree with you about the change, you’ll have to go back to court. In the court hearing, you’ll be asked to provide documentation of your job change and salary change and explanation for why you need reduced child support payments. The court can alter the child support payment temporarily or permanently. The California court page spells it out clearly here, keep in mind this is just for CA. Check your states court page for their guidelines.
One important thing to note is that child support can not be changed retroactively. This means that if you change jobs in April but don’t file for a new hearing until June, you’ll still be on the hook for the regular child support payments until the hearing is completed and a new payment amount is awarded.
It’s important to keep accurate records of child support payments all the time, but it’s especially important during transition times when payment amounts change. You will always owe the previously determined amount of money until the court finalizes a new amount. If you fail to pay the correct amount, you’ll be considered in arrears and you will have to make extra payments to catch up.