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Seeking modification when you can't afford child support

As a parent, there are many things you can do to reduce expenses when it comes to your child. In months when money is tight, you can adjust your spending on unnecessary groceries or simply explain to the child that you cannot afford what he or she wants. It may even be a good lesson for the kids to have to delay gratification in order to pay for the necessities in life.

When you pay child support, on the other hand, there is no room for such adjustments. You pay the same amount every month, even if your budget says otherwise. From time to time, this may leave you with barely enough to cover your own expenses. You may wonder if there is a way to change the amount of support you pay for your child.

When can I ask for a modification?

Like most states, Illinois has a formula for determining the amount of child support a parent will pay, considering your income and expenses as well as the needs of the child. This order comes either judicially through the courts or administratively through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If you find the amount the court or HFS has ordered is too much for you to pay, you can request a modification, but they will only consider a change under certain circumstances, such as:

  • You lose your job.
  • You experience another significant change in your financial circumstances.
  • You can show that the amount you pay is at least 20% higher than what the Illinois statutes specify.
  • The other parent remarries.
  • You remarry or have other children to support.
  • You gain a significant amount of parenting time.
  • The child receives a significant income from another source, such as an inheritance.
  • The child seeks and wins emancipation.

The child's other parents may also seek adjustments to the support, such as when the child has unexpected medical expenses, the other parent has a considerable financial setback or if your income should substantially increase. Typically, the court or HFS will not consider requests for modifications to child support unless three years have passed since the original order.

If you are struggling to make your support payments, it is essential that you continue to pay as much as you can to avoid serious legal and financial consequences. Meanwhile, reaching out for the assistance of a skilled family law attorney may provide you with the answers you need for seeking relief.

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