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Law Offices Of David Bliven
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Analyzing The Downward Modification Of Support In Child Support Cases


In this article you will learn about:

  • What a downward modification of support is, and why it occurs.
  • Under what circumstances child support can be modified.

What Exactly Is A Downward Modification Of Support?

A downward modification of support is a request that the amount of child support is reduced in some way as a result of various factors. This can happen if one parent’s income has gone up or down, or if the original support order changes due to the circumstances within the family. For instance, if there were three children on the support order, and one of them was emancipated, the order would need to be recalculated based on the new set of conditions.

So, there could be a variety of reasons why somebody wants the support order to go down. Another common reason for a downward modification of support is if one parent or the other loses their job. Usually, in this case, the non-custodial parent would lose their job and may want support adjusted accordingly. These are the most common types of downward modifications that our firm deals with.

What Are Legitimate Reasons For The Inability To Pay Support At The Current Level Ordered By The Courts In New York?

This depends on whether somebody had a divorce settlement agreement or not. If the couple had a divorce settlement agreement done, then the attorney would need to determine when the settlement was executed, and what was agreed upon for child support. In 2010, New York state law modified the law such that any agreements executed after 2010 would now be subject to the statutory modification standards (see below). This means any modifications to the support awarded by the court must be proven by a substantial change in circumstances, and this must be in accordance with the state’s regulations. However, agreements done before 2010 remain bound to the previous legislation known as “unanticipated change of circumstances.” This requires that something unforeseen must have happened that caused the person to have a reduction of income.

Although many people claim they lost their job due to unanticipated circumstances, there must be facts which support the claim. This can include an extended duration of employment and stability of the job itself. However, if the person had frequent career changes and was in a relatively new position at the time of the agreement, then it’s harden to prove the loss of job was “unanticipated.” Above all, an attorney must determine what the divorce settlement agreement was and what was settled on regarding the ability to modify support.

As of 2010, child support can be modified under one of the three circumstances:

  • There has been a substantial change of affairs.
  • There has been a 15% difference in income since the support order was last set or adjusted.
  • Three years has passed since the original order was set or last modified.

This is now the statutory basis to modify support in New York – unless the parties have executed a divorce settlement agreement “opting out” of the statutory basis to modify. If an individual satisfies one of these three requirements to change support, it does not necessarily mean the Judge will ultimately change the support order. This is a foundational requirement, but there must be other factors which are considered when applying for a downward modification of support. Once the parent satisfies one of these three grounds to modify support, their support case is reopened, and the court must calculate a new support order based on the statutory and case-law standards.

For more information on Downward Modification of Support In NY, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080 today.