Tightly sewn divorce cases can be stirred when one party seeks a modification of child support payment. It could be the parent responsible for the payments or the parent who has custody of the child. In either case, circumstances have changed to a point that the amount of child support has to be increased or lowered. A medical emergency or failing health conditions of either the paying parent or the child is a common reason for a request to modify child support payment. If as the paying parent, you are afflicted by an illness or have a medical emergency, you may ask for a temporary or permanent decrease in the amount of child support payments. On the other hand, if the child has a medical emergency or is struck down by a serious illness, your ex-spouse as the custodial parent can file a request for a bigger amount of child support.

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Negotiating a Modification Without a Court Hearing

If you are on talking terms with your ex-spouse, you can both come to an agreement that is mutually satisfactory without getting the court involved. But it has to be written and approved by a judge to be enforceable, in case problems arise later on and the paying parent reneges on payment. A doctor’s report and bills for medicine and other treatment will convince the other parent on the need for a change in the amount of child support.

What is a “Serious Medical Condition” for Child Support Modification Purposes

A serious medical condition affects the capability of the ill or injured parent to earn the same wages resulting in loss of income and additional expenses for medical treatment. For the injured or ill child, the level of care changes, and consequent financial needs increase to pay for the child’s therapy.

If you have been diagnosed with an illness or disability and want your child support payment modified to a lesser amount, bring all the documents that will support your request. A doctor’s comprehensive report will include the diagnosis, the necessary treatments and the length of period for recovery that will bring you to your pre-illness condition. Include bills for medicines, rehabilitation therapy and hospitalizations if applicable. You can also ask your company to give you a certificate attesting to your lowered income due to physical incapacity.

For the custodial parent of a sick or injured child, the same documents should be presented in court to justify the need for an increase in child support allotment. Tony Dunne, a San Diego child support attorney, says that the requesting party must submit irrefutable evidence to support a change in the existing court order. State laws dictate child support orders and there are variations for each state. So it’s always wise to be familiar with the laws of the state that has jurisdiction over your case, in addition to getting the services of a lawyer experienced in your state.

Where a Request for Modification Should Be Filed

For any parent wanting a raised or lowered payment for child support, the request should be filed in the same court that issued the most current child support order. A new order granted by the court is necessary before the modified child support can take effect. The other parent should be notified as required by law.

How Social Security Benefits Affect a Request of Modification for Child Support


The SSI, or Social Security Income, is for people with limited income who are disabled, blind or over 65 years old. If you are paying child support on a limited income and you become disabled, you are entitled to SSI and almost certainly be granted a request for modified child support. Generally, an income of more than $1,090 will not qualify you for SSI disability benefits. For more information, you may contact your local SSS office.


The SSDI, or Social Security Disability Program, is paid to eligible workers who are become disabled before reaching retirement age. It may also be garnished by the court if you have been remiss in your child support payments. Your child may also receive derivative benefits which, in California, may be counted towards the child support payment you make each month. Make sure you apply for your child’s benefit as soon as your SSDI is approved.

If you are the parent paying child support, an important thing to remember is to be diligent in your monthly child support payment since an approved application for modified support will not absolve you of prior non-payment. Hence, your SSDI benefit will be seized in favor of your child if you are found to have not paid child support.