Welcome to Mississippi Family Law and Divorce Attorney, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC blog site.
On The Wade Law Firm blog, we recently discussed some of the scenarios that may allow courts to decide on a child support payment order that is higher or lower than the suggested statutory guidelines. These were certain, limited situations that occur at the time the court originally sets the amount of child support payments paid by the non-custodial parent (parent who doesn’t have physical custody of the child).
But what about later on down the road? What if someone loses his or her job, gets married again, or develops a serious health or behavioral problem? Will any of these life changing factors support or justify a modification of child support?
If you think your child support order needs to be raised or lowered, you should get familiar with Mississippi’s legal standard for modifying child support – “a material change in circumstances.” You’ll have to go to court to change a child support order, and these are the questions the court may ask when deciding what to do:
• Has there been a material change in circumstances that justifies modifying the amount of child support to be paid?
A material change in circumstances can happen in a number of ways. One of the most common reasons that child support is adjusted downward is that the paying parent has lost his or her job. Of course, the job loss must be involuntary. Quitting a job does not justify a lower child support payment. Child support payments are commonly raised when a child develops a medical condition that makes higher support payments necessary for the benefit of the child. The paying parent receiving a raise is not enough to justify higher payments.
• Has the change occurred after the last decree that decided your child support obligations?
The change in circumstances must be new. If the issue existed when child support was first decided, it’s likely too late to modify payments now.
• Was the change in circumstances foreseeable?
This is similar to the last question. The court will give great weight to the first determination of child support payments and will assume that all issues regarding who should pay–and how much–have been sorted out. If the change in circumstances was something you and the other parent knew was likely to occur, it should have been covered before.
For example, if the parent and child were planning to move to a new, more expensive city when the court first decided on child support payments, higher bills associated with moving won’t justify higher child support payments. After all, the change in expenses was foreseeable.
We hope you have a bit more knowledge on a few of the basic issues that may come into play if you are considering a modification of child support payments in Mississippi. If you think that you may need to increase or decrease child support payments in your case, get in touch with Attorney Vangela M. Wade.
As one of Metro Jackson and Central Mississippi’s best family law attorneys, we serve our clients with personalized legal advice and solutions with compassionate counsel.