How to Modify Child Support

In Illinois, child support is always modifiable. There is no agreement that you can enter into waiving your right to receive child support.
Some of the fundamentals of child support are: (1) Increase in support, (2) Reduction of support, and (3) Reductions cannot be retroactive.
Modification of Support (Increase)
A custodial parent may seek an increase in child support, but only when there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” that justifies the increase. Often times, the fact that your child has aged would be enough to demonstrate a “substantial change in circumstance” because the child’s needs have likely increased. Child support is always modifiable. It may not be non-modifiable – even if the parents agree to that term. The law spells out specific thresholds that must be satisfied before the request may even be considered by the court.
Modification of Support (Reduction):
A non-custodial parent may be able to reduce his or her child support payments based on a “substantial change in circumstances;” that is, when new circumstances justify it. Generally speaking, the court will permit a reduction where the change in circumstances is beyond the control of the parent paying support. For example, if you pay support and you get laid off from your job, the court will probably grant a reduction in your support payments. If, however, you voluntarily reduce your income, quit your job, or do something intending to get yourself fired, you probably won’t get much sympathy from the court – meaning no reduction.
Reductions Cannot Be Retroactive:
Court orders modifying child support can effect only future payments – they cannot go back in time and retroactively reduce (or increase) support orders. Even if your support order is wrong – like if the math was done improperly – there are only a few things that can be done about it retroactively. Nunc pro tunc orders (court orders that have retroactive effect) cannot be used to correct errors. If you think your child support order should be changed – whether you’re seeking an increase or a reduction – the sooner you act the sooner the modification can go into effect. Every day that goes by until you start the process in court is a day that the court cannot later change – you’re just throwing money away.

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