Modifications of Child Support

Are you currently paying child support?  If there has been any change in circumstance that could potentially lower the amount of child support you are paying, then you should act sooner rather than later to preserve your rights.  There are two mistakes that parties often make when paying child support.

We frequently have clients consult with us that have overpaid child support for many months or even years.  They wait to consult with an attorney, and then seek what is known as “recoupment” of the funds they overpaid. While recoupment is a legal term, it is rarely seen.  Recoupment means that the child support payee is ordered to pay you back for any overpayment.  Unfortunately, the courts rarely order recoupment because if they often find that the money “overpaid” was used for the benefit of the children. So even if you feel that you have overpaid, it will be an uphill battle to see that money again and it is better to fix the problem before it occurs.

The other mistake people make is that if they feel they are overpaying child support, they will either go ahead and begin paying a lower amount unilaterally or stop paying child support all together, without seeking a court order.  The problem is that when this issue eventually gets to Court, the Court will likely assess arrears calculated pursuant to the last child support order.  For example, if at the time of the last order, it was agreed that you would pay $1,000 per month for child support, and then a year later you unilaterally begin paying $500 per month, and then you end up in Court a year later, you may be ordered to pay $6,000 in arrears ($500 x 12 months). 

The moral of the story is that if for any reason you believe that you should be paying less in child support than you are currently paying, you should either immediately consult with an attorney and/or immediately file a pro se motion to modify child support.  Some common reasons why child support may decrease are as follows: 1) your salary decreased; 2) one or more of your children are no longer in daycare; 3) a change in health insurance cost, and 4) one or more of your children is emancipated (in Maryland, he/she has reached the age of 18 and/or has graduated high school, but is not yet 19).  If any of these things have happened to you or anything else that you believe is significant, contact an attorney.