In order to change a child support order, one or both parents have to show a change in circumstances since the last time a child support order was made. Depending on whether the prior support order was a temporary or permanent order, the amount of change required by the Court to modify the order will differ. Such changes include a change in income, a loss of a job, a parent becomes incarcerated, a parent receives a support order for a child from another relationship, a significant change in the amount of time a child spends with a parent, that the child’s needs have changed, or that the factors used to calculate support have changed. In all cases, the “change” has to be meaningful.
The exception to this is if the judge ordered the child support at an amount below the guideline support amount. If this has occurred in your case, then you don’t not need to demonstrate a change in circumstances, and you can ask for a change in the order at any time, even if the order was reached through an agreement between the parties.
If the parents can informally agree to a new child support amount, they can draft an agreement and give it to the judge to be made an official order of the court. However, if they cannot agree, a Request for Order seeking a change in the support amount will need to be filed to modify the child support order.
Remember that even if the parents have an agreement to change the child support order, until the judge signs the order, the existing child support amount has not been changed. Informal agreements to modify child support that are not made an official order of the court do not eliminate or change the obligation of the supporting parent to continue to make the payments. There are many cases where a parent learns years later that they owe back child support, plus 10% interest on the arrearages because they never got a formal court order recognizing the informal agreement and changing the support obligation. This kind of problem can literally ruin your life.