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How does child support order modification work?

Child support is the noncustodial parent's responsibility and when it's paid on time, both the custodial parent and the child will be able to depend on it to pay for expenses related to the child. What happens, though, when the noncustodial parent is laid off or has become injured or ill and unable to work?

A child support order modification can help. Any time your income as a noncustodial parent changes, a child support modification can be requested. The process for modification is listed below.

-- Ask the Domestic Relations Section for a "petition for modification."

-- Complete the petition, sign it and return it to the DRS.

-- You will receive a notice that states the date, time and place of a DRS office conference that you are scheduled to attend.

-- Attend the conference and see if a modification is available to you.

-- If neither party objects to the new child support amount, then the DRS will enter a new order for child support.

-- If either party objects to the amount of child support that is ordered initially, then a recommended support order could be issued.

-- A hearing may be requested. This hearing could be in front of a judge or a hearing officer. There are different time frames for requesting a hearing, depending on the county's guidelines.

The non-payment of child support can quickly cause serious problems for the noncustodial parent, including the suspension of your driver's license, liens placed on your property and the possibility of jail time. If you feel a modification is needed, an attorney can help you determine your legal options.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, "Support Order Modification," accessed Nov. 04, 2016

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