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When you can't keep up with child support payments

When you filed for divorce, you knew the court would likely order you to pay child support and were ready and willing to do so because you want what's best for your kids. After all, you were planning to get divorced not abdicate your responsibilities or obligations as a parent. At the time, you were in good health and earning a decent income that you believed could help you provide for your children's post-divorce financial needs.  

Like most divorced parents in South Carolina, you understand that life often includes unexpected changes that negatively affect your ability to meet expenses, such as child support payments. Hopefully, you're familiar enough with state law to know that you can't simply stop making payments because you're facing a financial crisis. If a court order exists, you must continue to adhere to its terms unless and until the court grants a modification. There are several factors to keep in mind if you plan to request a new payment amount

Don't leave the other parent in the dark 

As a divorced parent, you don't have to inform your former spouse of every detail regarding your personal life. However, when it comes to issues like child support, it's generally best to discuss problems that arise ahead of time, before seeking any type of legal action. In addition, the court may be more likely to grant your request for modification if you can show that the other parent is agreeable to the change.  

Document evidence of your need 

If you tell the court your circumstances have changed and you are no longer able to meet your current child support payments, you must be able to show evidence of your need. For instance, if you have suffered a medical disability and are unable to work, written documentation including your medical records and written substantiation of your claim from your physician will help prove to the court that a modification is warranted.  

What constitutes legitimate need for a modification? 

Using legal action to get back at a former spouse as an act of anger or revenge is never acceptable. The court will not approve an erroneous request. Valid reasons to request child support modification include losing your job, incurring unforeseen medical expenses, decreased income or additional family expenses brought about by a new marriage that includes stepchildren in your same household. 

Most financial crises are temporary and the court understands that divorced parents may have need of a child support modification when circumstances arise that make existing court-ordered instructions no longer feasible. If you keep making payments to the best of your ability in the meantime and access available support to help you file a modification request, you can continue to provide for your children's needs and avoid serious legal repercussions. 

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