When a court enters an order for child support, it establishes the terms of support payments for the parties. These terms are not set in stone, however, and Oklahoma parents may seek a child support modification if the circumstances warrant it. Broadly speaking, a support order will be modified only if the court has evidence of a substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parents or in the needs of the child. The considerations for the parties involved are different depending on whether they are custodial or non-custodial parents.
Justifications for child support modification
In order for a change in circumstances to call for the modification of an existing child support order, the change must be significant. That is, if the non-custodial parent receives a small increase in hourly wages, that is not likely to be enough to call for modification. Some states have an explicit limit on how often a support order can be modified. In all cases, there is a practical limit on modifications as family law courts do not want to be bothered with trivial changes.
Considerations for non-custodial parents
Non-custodial parents are the ones who make child support payments, so they might seek a modification to reduce the amounts of the payments. A court might grant such a request if the non-custodial parent loses his or her job, for example. The court has the power to make temporary adjustments to support orders or to set them for review after a period of time.
Considerations for custodial parents
The parent who is receiving child support payments should make a request for a support modification when the non-custodial parent’s income has significantly or when the child’s expenses have increased significantly. If the child has a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment, for example, that may be a reason to seek a modification. The system is designed to adapt to changing circumstances, but the court will want a good reason to modify an existing order for child support.