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Review of the child support modification process

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, a parent who is paying, or receiving child support does not have to just live the amount the court orders permanently. In fact, there are often good reasons to ask a court to change a child support amount, one of the more common reasons being a change in employment or a big promotion.

However, parents are not allowed under Pennsylvania law just to ask the court for a support modification as a matter of routine and instead must abide by certain requirements. Specifically, the person who wants a change in support has to show what the law calls a "material and substantial change in circumstances." What this means is that someone wanting to change support has to show what has changed since the last support order was entered and why those changes make a difference in the child support amount.

Also, the change in support has to be significant before a court will grant modification. Having to pay a dollar or two less in support would likely not qualify. However, a big change in job or a change in the overall wealth of person, such as if they discover additional property or income sources, might be significant enough for a court to be willing to re-calculate child support.

To ask for a modification, one need only file a petition in court, usually in the same court that made the original child support decision. Philadelphia residents should be cautioned, however, that once they file a child support decision, it can only be withdrawn with the agreement of the other side, meaning that the other parent could decide to keep the petition in front of the court in the hope that it will work out to their favor.

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