Modification of child support

Divorce Attorney Angela FoyQuestion:

My sister and her child’s father agreed to a child support plan below what the court ordered because the father’s income has dropped. My sister would now like to re-open the support issue and obtain the full amount she should be receiving. Is this possible?

Also, if she applied for state aid, would that qualify as a change of circumstances worthy of a modification of a child support?


Child support is always modifiable, prospectively. Modifying child support requires a material change in the circumstances upon which the ordered payments were predicated.

A substantial change of circumstances affecting either party’s income often satisfies this burden. The court is generally required to consider the same factors it considered when setting the original support order.

If you sister agreed to the amount, and then her financial circumstances changed, she likely has grounds to seek to modify the amount. Applying for state aid may not, in itself, be a change of circumstances, but it may.

If she does qualify and receive state aid, the state will weigh in on the future modifications. She will also qualify for the state to review the orders and petition for modifications, however, this is not likely to be for some time. It will likely be faster for her to file the motion herself, and serve the state, so that they would then be a part of the action.

In theory, the new, recent agreement should have stated the reason for deviating from the percentage guidelines. If not, it is possible that your sister could state that the father did not fully disclose his income, and therefore, the agreement should be modified.

Your sister should contact a domestic litigation attorney in Wisconsin to discuss her options.  Cordell and Cordell has attorneys licensed and located in Wisconsin, and they would be happy to discuss your case with you.


Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 

 Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.

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