Changes in life may constitute Alaska child support modification
Parents who wish to have their court-ordered child support modified in Alaska must be eligible to do so and follow a specific procedure.
It is crucial that Alaska residents continue to make their court-ordered child support payments. Not only is it part of the financial obligation a parent has to support their child, but failing to pay child support can lead to serious consequences, including jail time. There are situations, however, where life circumstances change and a parent may not be able to afford their child support payments each month. Child support modifications are an option for parents seeking to reduce or increase the child support payments ordered by the court.
Qualifying for child support modification
There are several ways that a parent may qualify for a modification. If the non-custodial parent’s income has fluctuated by at least 15 percent from the current child support order, a court may increase or decrease the payment amount. A change in the child’s visitation schedule or parenting plan may warrant a child support update as well. Here are a few common situations where a parent may want to seek modification:
- Sudden need for increased medical support
- Change in the child visitation schedule or parenting plan
- Custodial parent no longer needs the money
- Non-custodial parent files for bankruptcy
- Dramatic, permanent change in income
- Parent is furthering their education in an attempt to get a better job
In Alaska, unemployment alone may not be a justifiable reason to have a child support amount reduced, according to the Alaska Child Support Services Division. The CSSD will look at the non-custodial parent’s education, work history and available job opportunities in their field to determine whether the parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed.
The modification process
The parent wishing to seek modification must fill out and file a request for modification with the Child Support Services Division. The CSSD will then send both parents a notice of petition for modification packet, which explains the modification process and lists what information is needed. Parents are given 30 days to send in all of the requested documentation, which usually includes two years of federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, proof of health insurance coverage and paycheck stubs for the past three months.
After 30 days, the CSSD will perform the calculation to identify whether there is indeed a 15 percent change in income. The case must then go to the Office of the Attorney General if the child support is court-ordered. The entire modification process may take between two and six months depending on the specifics of the case. Parents should keep in mind that if ordered child support amount changes, the new amount will not be considered retroactive from when the modification was filed.
Partnering with an attorney
Whether you are a custodial parent who believes that your former spouse has had a substantial increase in their income, or you are a non-custodial parent who has experienced a major change in your life, you may want to consider partnering with an attorney to seek child support modification. An attorney can help walk you through the modification process and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Keywords: divorce, child, support, visitation, custody