Changes Adequate to Warrant Modification of Child Support

When couples with children divorce, one parent will often bear the burden of paying the other child support. Child support obligations that are instituted when children are young may need to be revisited over time, as changing circumstances may render them inappropriate. Not all changes warrant modifications to support orders, though, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a New York child custody case. If you have questions about your rights and obligations with respect to child support, it is in your best interest to consult a New York child support lawyer to discuss your case.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and the father were married and had three children together. They divorced in 2017 and entered into a stipulation regarding child support. Pursuant to the stipulation, the father agreed to pay the mother $3,250 in child support each month until December 1, 2020, when his support obligation increased to $4,157. The court incorporated the stipulation into the divorce judgment.

It is alleged that in 2020, the father filed a petition asking the court to make a downward modification of his child support obligation. He argued that a substantial change in circumstances warranted the obligation; namely, his oldest child turned 21 and was emancipated. The mother moved to dismiss the petition. The trial court granted the mother’s motion, and the father appealed.

Changes Adequate to Warrant a Modification of a Support Obligation

The appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling. In New York, a party seeking a modification of a child support order must establish that a substantial change in circumstances occurred that warrant the modification. In evaluating whether there has been a change significant enough to necessitate a modification, the court will examine several factors, such as the increased cost of living, changes in the children’s needs, and fluctuation in the assets or income of the parents.

A court may assess whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances by comparing the financial situation of the parties when the support order was issued with their present situation. Further, a party seeking a downward modification of a support order on the basis that a child has been emancipated has to prove that their support obligation is excessive based on the needs of the remaining children. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the father failed to show that a substantial change occurred, as the stipulation dictated that an increase in the father’s support obligation was to occur after the oldest child was emancipated. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced New York Child Support Lawyer

Child support obligations can last for years, and in some instances, they may need to be modified. If you are subject to a child support order and you have concerns regarding how changing circumstances may impact your rights, it is advisable to confer with an attorney. Ksenia Rudyuk is an experienced New York family law attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you protect your interests, and if you hire her, she will advocate assertively on your behalf. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk through the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a meeting.

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