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Renegotiating Child Support After Disability


Parents can negotiate a lower child support payment if they become disabled and unable to work. The parents can agree to a new amount themselves. If that is not an option, the disabled parent can ask a family court for a support modification hearing.


How Do Courts Determine Child Support Payments?

When a couple with children divorces, they must determine the amount of child support the non-custodial parent must pay. Usually, couples use the family court to help determine the appropriate amount of support. When determining child support, the court considers:

·         The income of both parents

·         Child support or alimony either parent receives from a previous marriage

·         Whether either parent is paying child support or spousal support from a former marriage

·         Which parent pays for healthcare and the cost

·         Which parent pays for daycare and the cost

·         The ages of the children

·         Whether either parent lives with a new partner or spouse who contributes to household expenses

How Can a Parent Change Child Support after Becoming Disabled?

A parent may want to stop paying child support after becoming disabled. However, the parent’s obligation does not end because of a disability. However, if the parent’s earnings decrease due to the disability, he or she can take steps to modify the amount of support.

If the parents have a civil post-divorce relationship, they can try to negotiate a new payment. The disabled parent should present the difference between his or her previous income and current income. When the parents reach an agreement, they should put it in writing and sign it.

The disabled parent may also petition the family court for a support modification hearing. In the case of a new disability, the court is likely to lower the child support amount because the disabled parent no longer has the same income. However, the disabled parent must first prove the necessity for the adjustment to the family court.

The parent can help his or her request for modification by winning a disability hearing. When a parent provides the court with proof of a disability judgment and payment, the court is more likely to accept the need for modification. The court will then take into account several other factors, such as:

·         Whether the parent is receiving Supplementary Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI provides minimum financial assistance to disabled people. The payments are often so low that the court won’t count them as income. SSDI is based on the disabled person’s prior income and may be much higher. SSDI income may be high enough to require child support payments. Further, the children can apply for auxiliary benefits and receive payments directly.

·         What the costs for medical treatment are for the disabled parent. The court will factor in these expenses to determine a lower payment.

·         Any additional support the disabled parent can provide. If the parent is no longer able to work, he or she may be able to provide more extensive childcare, decreasing some costs.

When parents become disabled, they can usually negotiate a lower child support payment. However, parents need to go through proper channels and make sure they are clear about the factors affecting their ability to make payments. Finally, each parent should keep a copy of any agreement or order modifying child support payments.

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