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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Divorce typically presents a series of challenges for a family. If you are a parent, you will also have unique considerations for your children and finances. When you need assistance with the divorce process or post-divorce needs, let The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky be your guide.

Can my spousal or child support order be changed?

In some circumstances, spousal support (alimony) or child support orders may be changed. The court refers to these changes as modifications of support orders. Generally, when a request for a change in support is made, the requesting party must show the court that his or her circumstances have significantly changed from the time of the original support order to show the need for an adjustment. While the court considers several aspects of the requestor’s situation, the court uses similar tests and considers similar factors when granting or denying modifications of spousal and child support orders.

What constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” or “material change”?

A substantial change in circumstances can vary according to your state. A substantial change might include a permanent, involuntary change in employment status, relocation as a result of a job transfer or change, significant financial change in the obligor or the recipient, change in co-habitation status, and change in marital status. As in most family law matters, modification of support orders is governed by state law. To ensure that you have an accurate understanding of your state’s laws, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.

What does the court consider when modifying child support?

When determining whether to adjust an order, the court examines changes in the parents’ resources and child’s needs. Situations that demonstrate a substantial or material change in circumstances include a greater or lesser ability to pay support, a change in the financial resources of the parent receiving child support, a change in the child’s needs, and, in some cases, new marital status for the parent receiving support. While not considered a substantial or material change in circumstances, a noncustodial parent who fails to regularly exercise his or her visitation rights may see an increase in child support obligations to offset the other parent’s expenses.

What does the court consider when modifying spousal support?

While specific rules depend on state law, the court considers two main factors when granting or denying a modification of spousal support. These factors include an increase or decrease in a spouse’s ability to fulfill support payments and whether the spouse receiving support has a greater or lesser need for the payments.

Do custody and visitation affect child support?

Simply stated, yes. When one parent receives sole physical custody, the noncustodial parent will usually be responsible for child support. The division of child custody can impact child support determinations. Additionally, when a noncustodial parent fails to exercise his or her visitation rights, they may face an increase in child support obligations.