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When can child support payments be modified?

Court-ordered child support requires parents to fulfill their duty to financially support their children, even if they do not share physical or legal custody of their children.

The amount that parents pay in support depends entirely on their individual circumstances, namely their income, as well as their child’s needs. One’s circumstances and a child’s needs are always subject to change, which is why parents can modify the amount they pay.

Circumstances must change to necessitate a modification

There are only certain situations in which parents can petition to modify their child support agreement. These situations include:

  • Financial changes: If parents paying child support experience a significant change in their financial circumstances, they could petition for Illinois family courts to review their child support agreement. For example, if parents lose their job, they might not have the resources to pay their child support, even if they receive unemployment benefits.
  • The child’s needs change: Under Illinois law, child support orders are eligible for review once three years pass after the initial order. In the span of three years, a child’s needs could change considerably. Perhaps they do not require certain childcare expenses anymore. Or they might require more financial support for tuition if they choose to attend a private school or college.
  • Healthcare costs: If the child requires financial support for their healthcare needs and the order does not already provide such support, Illinois law specifically states that parents can request a review of the child support order. If children suffer a severe injury or receive a diagnosis of a chronic illness, parents may have to modify the support order to help cover these medical expenses.

Child support orders are not unchangeable. Even so, parents seeking to modify their child support order must approach it thoughtfully and properly. It is often beneficial for parents to consult an experienced family law attorney to ensure they protect their rights and navigate the modification process efficiently.