Divorced or separated parents in Alabama will need to share responsibilities for their children. They will divide parenting time, and the adult who has the children less of the time will usually need to provide financial support.
Child support ordered by the Alabama family courts can help the parent who takes on more parental responsibilities better meet the needs of the children. The state determines how much someone should pay in child support based on the breakdown of parenting time, the unique needs of the children and the income of both adults in the family.
The expectation is that the parent ordered to pay support will do so in full and on time until the children are adults and the order ends. When can parents potentially ask the courts to change what they pay in child support?
When their circumstances have significantly changed
Maybe one parent recently lost their job, and they don’t have any current income whatsoever. They could be at risk of support order enforcement efforts should they fall far enough behind on their child support payments. They may need to go to court to ask for a modification based on their change in income.
The parent receiving support could potentially ask for a change to the order based on an increase in costs for the children or an awareness of the good fortune of the other parent that increases their income. When there has been a major change in the family circumstances, the state may recalculate child support to better reflect the current ability of the parents to pay and the need of the children for support.
When three years have passed
Even if the parents do not specifically ask the Alabama family courts to review and modify the existing child support order for their family, the courts will do so automatically every 36 months or three years. Income levels and other family situations change all the time, so having a schedule for routine child support evaluations helps ensure that parents pay and receive appropriate amounts of support given their circumstances.
Simply agreeing to change child support amounts is not sufficient. An informal agreement between parents will not result in a reduction in one parent’s responsibility to the other in the eyes of the state, meaning that enforcement efforts could still be possible. An informal arrangement to increase support would leave one parent dependent on the goodwill of the other. Going back to the family courts to modify a child support arrangement could be a good decision for either parent when situations change.