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630-472-9700Available 24/7

What Is a Substantial Change in Circumstances for Child Support

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois custody attorneyIf you and your spouse have any children, one of you will be ordered to pay child support starting after your divorce proceedings, as well as possibly spousal support. While the court’s decision must stand for the moment, it is possible to modify either support order after enough time has passed. The law holds that there must have been a “substantial change in circumstances” in order to do so, however, and that vague term can sometimes cause confusion.

Timelines Matter

Unlike in other states, a child support or spousal support order may be modified by the court anytime after its entry, though the timing will be scrutinized to ensure that it is being requested for appropriate reasons. (In other words, a modification requested solely to vex the other parent will not only be denied, it may result in a contempt of court citation for the requester.) Also, any support obligation that is already due and owing may not be retroactively modified, even if your request is granted.

The crux of the reason that timing of modification requests is closely scrutinized by the court is rooted in the fact that a “substantial change in circumstances” must be shown in order for there to be a reason for modification. If modification is sought too early on (relatively quickly after the conclusion of divorce proceedings), it is not possible for there to be a substantial change, at least not in theory.

What Change Is Substantial?

Though the phrase appears in the law to explain the type of life change that must occur in order to be granted a modification of one’s support order, it is never actually defined what constitutes a “substantial change.” The most common example used is a pay cut, but multiple other scenarios may fit the proverbial bill. Examples include you, your spouse, or one of your children acquiring a significant disability, being fired from one’s job or learning that you are not actually the father of the child for whom you are paying support.

Even if you are able to show a change in circumstances that the law requires, multiple factors in your life and that of your children must be considered. There may be enough foundation in your life that the court will decline to hold that your issue is a “substantial” change in circumstances. Factors the court will take into account include the current and future earning potential of both parents, potential tax consequences of any change, and “any other factor” that the court finds appropriate to consider.

Contact an Attorney Today

Establishing that there has been a “substantial” change in your circumstances can be difficult, but it does not have to be impossible. Our passionate DuPage County child support attorneys may be able to assist you in your case. Contact the offices of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today to set up an initial appointment.



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