The only option to cut basic child support is with the agreement of the court. Unless a court amends your support order, paying less than the amount specified in the order is a breach of the order. This means you should never cut or discontinue your payments without first obtaining court approval.
If you are unable to pay the full amount of support required by your order, you may file a petition for modification. The court will determine if a change in circumstances warrants a reduction in support. If it does, then the court will issue an amended order reducing your obligation.
The best way to reduce your child support payment is by increasing your income. This can be done through employment opportunities outside of your regular job or by receiving additional child support from another source. For example, if your spouse makes more money than he or she is required to pay, they can submit a request for a reduction of their obligation. The more money you can bring in, the easier it will be to lower your child support payment.
There are two ways to go about filing for a reduction: online or in person. Filing online is free and easy. You can simply go to www.pajudiciary.com and click on the Child Support section. Here, you can view all current cases and sign up to receive email notifications when hearings are scheduled. There is no charge for filing electronically. In person appearances are held at county courts throughout Pennsylvania.
Child support payments might be reduced. Child support payments can be reduced without going to court by a voluntary agreement between both parents. If the payment is ordered by the court, the revised agreement must still be filed with the court. The court may accept the revision, order more equal contributions from each parent or reject it and return to the original arrangement.
In order to reduce your child support obligation you will need to show that you are unable to pay and that reducing the amount would not deprive your children of necessary items such as food, clothing and education. The court may also reduce an award if one parent spends a large portion of their income on additional children or non-dependants.
The decision to reduce an award is at the discretion of the judge and depends on many factors including the number of children, the age of the children, the relative financial circumstances of both parents and the nature of their employment. For example, if one parent makes much more than the other, they may be able to prove that they cannot afford the full amount and should therefore have their child support reduced.
It is important to remember that even if you do not pay all of your child support, your credit rating will not be affected.
Changing the Amount of Child Support A change (called a "modification") to raise or lower the amount of court-ordered child support can be requested at any time by either parent or the child's legal guardian. You can petition the court yourself with the assistance of your county's Family Law Facilitator or a private attorney, but you cannot represent yourself in court. The court will not grant a modification unless there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last support order was issued.
The party requesting the modification must show that doing so is in the best interests of the children. At a minimum, these factors should be considered: what is each parent's financial situation? How much space will the move require? What are the schools like in the new area? Is there job opportunity in the new area? What is the effect on the children of moving them away from their friends and other family members?
A parent who wants to reduce his or her child support obligation may do so if he or she can afford it and if the proposed reduction is reasonable. In most cases, parents who want to reduce their obligations will seek employment and increase their income. Reducing child support amounts may also be possible if one parent's income increases while another's decreases. The court may adjust payments upward or downward based on the parent's changed circumstances.
Parents need to understand that a change in one's financial situation may affect their ability to pay child support.
If you discover that you should no longer be paying child support, you should notify the agency as quickly as possible. You are still obligated to make payments as long as the order is in existence, even if those payments are no longer required. If you stop making payments, the agency may report your failure to pay to the appropriate authorities, which could have an adverse effect on your ability to get other orders or work permits.
The agency can file a complaint with the appropriate court to have the current order modified or terminated. The agency can also seek additional funds from you if it believes you have the ability to pay more than what you currently do. If you fail to pay as ordered, the agency can ask the court to hold you in contempt of court and sentence you accordingly.
If you want to stop making child support payments, contact the agency immediately to explain why. See if there are any options available for reducing or removing yourself from the payment schedule. If you feel like you cannot afford to pay anymore, discuss potential modifications with the agency so they can help you find affordable alternatives.
It is important to remember that a child support order is just that- an order. It does not affect your rights as a parent, but rather establishes certain responsibilities. If you feel like you cannot meet these obligations, you should communicate this to the agency so they can adjust the schedule accordingly.