During a divorce, the court may set child support amounts based on both the children’s needs and the circumstances of each parent. However, these factors are unlikely to remain the same as children grow and ex-spouses navigate their separate lives.
In Minnesota, divorce parents may ask the court to review and possibly alter child support amounts if significant life changes make the current arrangement unworkable.
When might the court consider modifying support?
Generally, a judge may consider altering a support order after a major change in either a child’s needs or a parent’s ability to provide support. Examples of changed circumstances that may qualify for modification include:
- A parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in total income
- A child develops new educational or medical needs
- A parent sees a substantial increase or decrease in cost-of-living expenses
- Higher or lower health care coverage costs or a change in coverage availability
- A child or parent receives/stops receiving public assistance
- A change in custody or parenting time arrangements
However, loss of income alone may not be enough to justify lower payments. Parents requesting lower support amounts may have to show that a decrease in income was due to unforeseen, unpreventable circumstances rather than through choice or misconduct.
Do parents need to go to court to change a support order?
Parents must receive court approval before changing support payments. However, they may be able to avoid a court hearing by negotiating a new agreement between themselves. In addition to avoiding the cost and stress of litigation and/or enforcement, a negotiated modification may help ensure children continue to receive the support they need.