Unemployed and Broke: How Can I Lower My Child Support?

How Can I Lower My Child Support? Cordell & Cordell AttorneysBy Missouri Cordell & Cordell Divorce Lawyers

As we all know, the economy has been in a slump. Many people have lost their jobs or seen their paycheck and hours cut.

Clients always want to know how much child support might be.

Most clients are horrified at how high child support can be even with their lowered income during these depressed economic times. Many wonder how they can survive paying child support with not much left over for all of their bills.

It can be especially galling when the other parent seems to be buying new things all of the time. If this becomes a larger issue, ask your attorney about a Motion for Accounting of Child Support by the Custodial Parent.

So how can you lower your child support when your income decreases?

In most states, child support is governed by statute and calculated using a set standard of guidelines and formulas.

Typically, these calculations are based on gross income of the parties and take into account if either party has other children, daycare expenses, health care expenses and a percentage credit for custody time, among other things.

Family courts are governed by the standard that everything needs to be in the child’s best interests. The child needs to have certain essentials, such as a home, utilities, and medical care. If the custodial parent cannot provide for these needs by themselves, the other parent needs to pay child support to ensure these needs are met.

How Much Should You Be Paying?

Child Support Calculators

If you have trouble paying child support, do not wait! Consider these options:

Motion to Reduce Child Support: If you cannot pay the current amount, consider filing a motion to reduce it. The standards and procedural requirements vary by state, but, in general, parents who genuinely cannot afford to pay (e.g., have lost a job or have significant student debt) will receive a reduced amount or a long-term payment plan. Contact a mens divorce attorney in your area for information about the rules applicable to you.

Three Year Support Review: By federal law since 1996, states receiving federal assistance must review child support orders every three years. Support payors and payees have a “one time pass” every three years to ask the court to review their current child support order. All they need to do is send a letter to the court to request it. Contact the court or child support administrator for your case to find out how your jurisdiction conducts the reviews.

How is gross income determined with changing salaries or even with job changes? 

Judges tend to look at the last three years of earned income. And yes, judges can take your overtime into account. If your overtime is not guaranteed, get a letter in writing from your supervisor. This can help your case.

Judges tend to look at a parent who has had the same job over the last several years, even with changing incomes, to be proceeding forward or up, in their career.

Judges generally will review your newest income level and use that number on the chart.  They can also look at the last three years of income if the numbers are very different.

If you have changed jobs, and you make less than you made three years ago, the judge will take those numbers and average them out. This number will then be used as gross income.

When to modify child support

Many divorced dads ask me if they can change their child support after only a few months, but usually a modification won’t be granted until at least 6 months have passed since the final order.

So, as a practical matter, motions filed within 6 months of your divorce are suspect at best. In fact, in some states the burden of proof is expressly greater if you file a motion to modify within one year of divorce.

There has to be a change in circumstances that would lead a judge to believe that child support be lowered.

What is a significant change of circumstance?

  • The child is no longer entitled to child support;
  • Verified permanent medical disability of either parent;
  • Court ordered custody change;
  • Change in daycare or medical insurance; or
  • Significant change in income in either parent’s income

A growing trend in many states is for parents to opt for no child support exchanged between the two of them. One parent pays for daycare, and the other covers health insurance. Getting to this agreement is sometimes a matter of necessity.

Cordell & Cordell

Child Support Attorneys

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61 Comments on "Unemployed and Broke: How Can I Lower My Child Support?"

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2 months 3 days ago

This has been an ongoing problem for yrs. Its just going to get worse. Unstable job market mixed with a crappy real estate market. Either the real estate market needs a moretorium or cap. Or states and employers need to step up their game severly. Believe it or not Donald Trump is among the few employers that paid livable wages. Because he understands macro vs micro economics on not just a local but global scale.Most business owners and employers lack this experience or knowledge.

Bruce Hale
6 months 14 days ago
I will start by introducing myself to the entire world, My names are Bruce Hale. To start with, I am the kind of person that hardly believe on spell casting as i felt and see it to be an evil thing that is not suppose to be practiced in the world that will leave on. Not until i keep on loosing hundreds of dollars on my business and always going to try my luck on winning of lotteries and other profitable drew games that were fruitfully-less. I kept on wondering if i was the most on lucky person on earth… Read more »
7 months 8 hours ago
I have a different type of question. My husband cheated on me after being together for 14 years 2 kids and married for only 2 months. He chose to be with her for awhile with devastated me but now he is feeling really sad, bad and misses me and the kids. I am not going to put up with anything less than what I deserve so if he and I work out its going to take a lot of time to see changes and trust him again. I want to go through with a divorce but I am currently living… Read more »
8 months 22 days ago
My x-wife and were divorced 24 years ago. She never worked and married a doctor very shortly thereafter. Not one single time did we talk in over 20 years. She did not include me in any decisions regarding the children. Not once. When my son was burned very badly she did not call me to let me know and she listed her husband as my son’s father, not me! I had paid her via money order because she did not have a bank account when we were first divorced. Like $4000.00 – after 12 years go by she takes me… Read more »
Ryan M.
9 months 9 days ago
Hello, my cs case needs some serious attention. I have two wonderful kids witch I pay cs for, also its two different cases. My daughters cs a month is set at $450 and my sons set at $340 somewhere right around there. Both witch the cs offices have tacked on an extra $50 a month due to arrears witch is also due to not making enough to cover to original monthly payment. When my cs was originally set up I was a manager over a shipping/receiving department and when I took that position it moved me to night shift witch… Read more »
11 months 7 days ago

It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I’m glad that you just shared this useful
information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

1 year 2 months ago


1 year 3 months ago

Can somebody take child support to court to review support amount for years pasted?

1 year 4 months ago
I have been married for 4years now and i have a break up with my husband 3months ago and i was worried and so confuse because i love him so much. i was really going too depressed and a friend directed me to this spell caster Dr. KALA on his email (kalalovespell@gmail. com) and i made all my problems known to him and he told me not to worry that he was going to make my husband to come back to me and in just 48hours i receive a call from my husband and he was appealing that i should… Read more »
1 year 4 months ago

Hi my boyfriend has another baby but the baby is in florida we live in chicago he got the papers that he needs to go to do a dna but we dont have the money we have 2 kids together and we need to save as much as we can what can he do if he cant go to florida to do the dna?