An involuntary change in financial circumstances may create a situation that makes it difficult or impossible to pay court ordered support. Falling behind in either spousal support or child support can place a former spouse or noncustodial parent in a precarious legal position. Instead of continuing to fall behind while hoping for a miracle to fix your legal and financial difficulties, requesting a modification can provide you with almost immediate relief. Being granted a modification can reduce your support payments, allowing you to stay in compliance with your court order without causing yourself unnecessary financial harm. Taking the time to prepare for a modification hearing can increase your chances of succeeding and avoiding a disaster.
Read the Documents
Before your modification hearing is scheduled, your attorney will file several forms to request the modification. It is always a good idea to read the forms prepared by your attorney that detail the case history and your reason for requesting the change in support payments. Knowing the contents of the documents is useful since either the judge or the other party’s attorney may ask questions about the paperwork filed. Not knowing what is included in the documents you provided is not only embarrassing, it could cause problems if the documents contain blatant errors that you did not notice.
Do Not Rely on Others
The only person you should rely on is yourself, meaning you should not depend on your former spouse or third parties to help verify your claims. It is your job to present evidence of your need for a modification by presenting proof of illness, disability, involuntary job loss, or an increase in income that the other partner recently received. Having too much evidence and information is better than having too little. Even if you have reason to believe that others will help you prove that you qualify for a modification based on a substantial change in circumstances, being prepared to proceed without them is always a good idea. The court may not be willing to postpone your hearing because a friend who was going to act as a witness did not show up or your former partner is now claiming that he or she did not receive a raise.
Disappointment is a Possibility
There are times when regardless of how much information you present, the court will still refuse to approve your modification proposal. In some cases the modification is approved, but only for a limited period of time. The reasons behind a judge’s decision to approve of limited relief or deny the request entirely vary and typically the judge will provide you with an explanation during the hearing. While having a request to modify an existing support order is often a major blow, it is not the end of the road. Your attorney can schedule a consultation for you at a later date so that you can begin working on a new relief plan.
Reach Out to an Attorney
Modification requests are not as simple they might initially appear. Depending on the history of your case and the circumstances that led to your need to request for a modification, your filing needs could be complex. The modification attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum realize that not all situations are the same. We are available to review your case and give you advice regarding how to proceed with your request. Contact us to schedule a consultation at one of our Atlanta area offices so that we can begin working on your behalf today.