Changing Child Support Orders

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Either parent can ask the court to change a child support order. The court can change the order if there has been a "material change of circumstances." Generally, in order to lower a child support order, the current support order must differ from what the Child Support Guidelines would recommend given the new income amount by 15%.

Can I change my child support order?
Maybe. If a court ordered you to pay child support, or if you are getting child support for your child, you can ask the court to change the amount of child support in the order. The court can change the current support order if there has been a material change of circumstances, or if the current support order differs from the Child Support Guidelines amount by 15%.

How does the court decide how much child support to order?
The court uses a child support worksheet and the Child Support Guidelines to figure out how much child support to order. The amount of child support is based on the parents' incomes and the costs of taking care of the parents' children. A parent whose only income is SSI cannot be forced to pay support. This page from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has information you can use to calculate your likely child support amount (Scroll down to "How to calculate your child support obligation"): http://chfs.ky.gov/dis/cse.htm

How do I change my child support order?
If you are supposed to be receiving child support, the Child Support Division of your local county attorney’s office should help you change your child support order, whether or not you receive welfare benefits. That office can also help you get your child support if the other parent is not paying. You can also hire a private attorney or file a petition to change child support on your own.

If you are the parent who has been ordered to pay child support you will probably need to hire a private attorney or file a petition to change child support on your own.

When will the court consider changing my child support order?

  • When things change so much that the current amount of child support is unreasonable. This might happen if:
    • A parent loses a job.
    • A parent gets a new job and makes a lot more money than he or she did before.
    • There is a change in custody of the child.
    • The child becomes disabled or needs a lot of medical care.
  • When the amount of child support that the court ordered before is 15% more or less than it would be if the court ordered it today.

Can any court change my child support order?
No. You should go to the court that ordered child support in the first place to change the child support order.

What if I just moved to Kentucky and the court that ordered the child support is in another state?
You can register the other state's child support order with the Kentucky court in your county. After you register the out-of-state order, you can ask the Kentucky court to change the order. Again, your local county prosecutor's office should help you with registering, changing, or enforcing an out-of-state order.

However, the Kentucky court can change the order only in certain situations, such as if you, the child, and the other parent all live or used to live in Kentucky. Your local county prosecutor may need to work with the prosecutor's office in the other state to change your child support order.

Do I have to go to a court hearing to change my child support order?
If you and the other parent agree to change the child support order, you may not have to go to court for a hearing. Even if you and the other parent agree on the change, you still have to ask for the court's approval. To do this, you need to file a paper asking the court to approve the agreed change in child support. If you and the other parent can’t agree on the change, then you will have to go to a court hearing.

If you have read the above information and you think you are entitled to a change in your child support order, you should first try to get an attorney to represent you. You can hire a private attorney, or ask your local county prosecutor's office, child support division, to help you modify the child support order. If you cannot or choose not to get an attorney to help you, you can try to draft your own pleading and represent yourself in court.



Reviewed August 2009