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What factors most affect child support modification requests?

As most Pennsylvania parents can attest, raising a child is a challenging but rewarding task. Most parents understand that they are responsible for financially supporting their children. If a couple separates or ends their marriage, the issue of who will pay for the children's everyday expenses inevitably arises. To ensure that a couple's children will have those expenses met after their parents split, child support issues should be discussed thoroughly to determine who will pay support and who will have custody.

What happens after a child support order has been issued? Once child support has been ordered, a court will strictly enforce payments. Supporting parents must pay support on time to avoid serious problems, such as creating financial trouble for the custodial parent. However, child support can be modified if needed. This means that either parent can seek to modify the existing support order and ask for it to terminate, increase or decrease. Child support often can be modified if the amount has not been reviewed or revised for a lengthy period of time or if there is a sudden increase in child-related expenses.

What is required for a support modification request? To modify a support order, a parent must present evidence of the following: increases or decreases in either parent's income, that the child is undergoing medical procedures or has ongoing medical expenses, changes in medical insurance costs, that parents have reconciled and are now living together, that the child is now emancipated, that the noncustodial parent is in prison or that other life-changing events merit a review of the existing support order.

Modification requests are handled by family law courts. Parents who want a modification should first review their legal options before filing such a request. They can seek legal advice to better understand their rights and ensure that the children will obtain a fair and just amount of financial support.

Source: Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, "Pennsylvania child support enforcement program," accessed Jan. 15, 2015

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