Thoughts of a change of child support orders usually arises when the current support order for food, shelter and clothing is not meeting the needs of the children. This could also occur when the payor believes the amount paid is in excess of the real costs or guidelines calculation, or there has been a change in income that prevents the payor from paying at the same level.
What Can Be Done About Child Support Modifications?
If the "now divorced" couple does not agree that a modification to the child support payments should take place, then what can be done?
First, know that all matters pertaining to the children, be it child support, health insurance coverage, payment for extracurricular activities, college etc. can always be modified, as these matters stay within the jurisdiction of the court; a legal concept known as a "merger".
Options on how to proceed to modify:
1) Legal Representation (Litigation)
The parties (ex-wife and ex-husband) can each retain their own Attorney, who will represent them during the modification complaint and trial.
The Good: You will have an experienced attorney advocating on your behalf (so will your ex).
The court system will bring you through its process and trial as needed (estimate a year or so).
Your hired experts will testify on your behalf (at your individual expense).
The Bad: You, as a couple, will pay double, each to an attorney, by the hour, for emails, motions prepared, telephone calls to you, and to the other attorney for court dates, wait time, travel time, and filing fees.
Your modification may turn into a "pandora's box" as to all issues, and not just the one you wanted to talk about. Recent incomes will be scrutinized, as well as, new assets and liabilities.
A complaint for modification will be filed with the court. The timing is several months to a year and you should know, it is often difficult to get the Court to issue a temporary order unless the matter is an emergency (this is rare). You may wish you didn't push it.
The parties (ex-wife and ex-husband) can decide to use private mediation as a way to reach an agreement. This requires a willingness for each to sit down with a Mediator, who will work as a neutral party and help both parties collectively rather than representing one party only.
This process allows you to use an attorney who is also a mediator. During the mediation process, that professional may not represent either of you (that would be a conflict), and you will get legal education by a person who knows how to help people generate options. You will meet in a comfortable office rather than in court. You will take part in mediation sessions at which time the mediator will quickly get to the point and explore options for a change if it objectively appears that there is a need for it.
Finally, if your mediator is also an attorney, will help you with the paperwork to file to make the change official and approved by the court.
Contact Baron Law & Mediation Today
Our mediators, Allan and Amy Beth Baron, are a unique male-female team dedicated to help clients generate options and explore solutions that fit their situation.
For more information about divorce mediation services, and the specific element of child support in Massachusetts, contact Baron Law & Mediation today for a free initial consultation. We offer flexible appointment times and can meet at our easy-to-find location in North Andover or other locations by request. We are proud to offer child support help to couples thinking of getting a divorce in Wilmington, Andover, Haverhill, Reading, Lawrence, Lowell, and other communities in Essex County and Merrimack Valley.
Contact us today at 978-674-8530 to learn more!
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