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Help! How can you afford child support?

As a parent going through a divorce, you know there is a likelihood that you could need to pay for child support if you are not the primary custodian of your child. The money is intended to help make up for the lost income in a single-parent household. It's there to support your child's education, daily needs and other necessities.

While you know you would pay child support willingly, it may be hard to understand how you could afford it, especially if you don't earn much now or already have your budget stretched.

There are many non-custodial parents who can't pay in full each month. If that's the case for you, then the court needs to reevaluate the amount it's asking you to pay.

Step 1: Talk to the Child Support Enforcement Office

It's always a good idea to be honest in these situations. If you are unable to meet the requirements set by the court, talk to the Child Support Enforcement Office about modifying what you pay each month. File a formal request for modification due to changed circumstances. This helps you on the path to having child support payments that are affordable.

Step 2: Understand how child support payments are determined

Initially, the amount of child support you were appointed to pay was calculated using your financial reports from your marriage and your income reports from the time of the divorce. If circumstances have changed, then it's within your rights to seek out a modification to your child support payments. If circumstances have not changed but you cannot afford child support payments, it's still a good idea to talk to your attorney about the options you have for altering your payments.

Step 3: Identify your changed circumstances

If circumstances have changed, you need to file a modification request and explain how your situation has changed. For example, if you fall ill and have medical expenses, this is considered a change that could allow your child support obligation to be lowered. Changes in your income, whether the changes are increases or decreases, also necessitate a change in the amount of your child support.

You can speak to your attorney about your options if you find you've fallen behind on child support. If you delay, you could face penalties from the court, since not paying child support is against the law. You may want to work out a new plan with the other parent outside court, but it's always best to do a formal modification when possible.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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