What Constitutes A Substantial Change In Circumstance?

divorce lawyer Daniel ExnerQuestion:

What constitutes a substantial change in circumstance?

I had a child support order entered in December and barely three months later my ex-wife is trying to modify the support order citing a “substantial change in circumstances.”


I am not licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction, but I can provide you with a general answer to your divorce and child custody question.

The standard is purposely nebulous to give courts wide discretion, but generally, the term “substantial change in circumstances” requires that the facts on which the prior order was based differ from the present facts and the difference is enough to justify the court considering whether to modify the order.

A substantial change in circumstances can include a significant increase or decrease in income or expenses for either party. For instance, an individual may qualify for modification if he or she loses a job or becomes injured or infirm.

In your case, if the motion for modification only deals with support, the court will likely only review the financial circumstances between your order from December and the date your ex-wife filed her motion. Since it appears her motion was filed coextensively or shortly after your original child support hearing/order, it is unlikely that a substantial change exists.

To fully advise you on your situation, a complete understanding of your situation is necessary. I recommend contacting a family law attorney to review your case.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer Daniel Exner, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “What Constitutes A Substantial Change In Circumstance?

    The 2018 tax laws impact individuals in California greatly due to the cap of the SALT deductions. Won’t this be a change in circumstances because of the unforeseen and unanticipated liability of the tax, therefore increasing the expenses of the paying spouse so the amount of the support order should be reviewed?

    change the law
    While everyone can agree both parents should share the responsibility of raising a child to include that of costs, child support had become a massive income producing opportunity. Some parents have taken advantage without any penalties and enjoyed all the benefits. It’s time that some fairness be brought. I myself have supported my son for 18 years. Not one year have I been able to claim a tax credit for him, for 18 years I have given a substantial amount of my income to help raise him apart from birthday gifts, healthcare assists, the costs of raising my other 2 children and more…I have struggled with bills, yet the other parent has had money to buy electronics, furniture and more as gifts for others as well as themselves. I have been forced to go to school part-time while they were allowed to attend school full-time and apply for public assistance. All I’m asking for is that parents who receive support/alimony pay taxes on that income and make it mandatory that tax credits be alternated between parents. While double taxation is illegal, how can I pay taxes on my gross income, get child support taken out based on my gross income, yet I never actually have that income? I think it is only fair that those who get the income, pay taxes on it as well. This would not stop the Child Support payments, but I do believe this would stop some of the unfair practices some custodial parents have used. Please support the taxation of Child Support as an income to custodial parents and the sharing of tax credits for children.

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