Life can change in an instant. You can learn that the company you’ve worked for the last decade is going out of business or find out that the company wants to promote you. You or your children could develop an illness or experience an accident that has long-term implications for your family.
When your situation changes, you may find yourself needing more support if you are the parent who receives child support and has more parenting time with your kids. On the other hand, if you are the parent who pays support, your circumstances may also change in a way that necessitates a change in the level of support that you pay.
In order to get the courts to seriously consider a modification request, you will likely need to show them that your situation has changed substantially. What constitutes a substantial change in the eyes of the Missouri courts?
The courts will look at the impact on support, not the direct financial impact
If your expenses have gone up by several hundred dollars a month or if your income has changed to a similar degree, that difference may it feels substantial to you. However, the court may not agree with your assessment. They expect someone to show a substantial change to justify requesting a modification.
Generally speaking, in order for the Missouri courts to agree to hear a modification request and to approve it, the person making the request needs to demonstrate that their circumstances have changed enough to result in a 20% adjustment of the amount of support paid. A drastic reduction of income might be one reason for a person to pay less support, while unexpected expenses, like medical care after a car crash, might be a reason to request more support.
Although most modifications focus on child support, it is also possible for people receiving alimony or spousal support to request a modification.
Adjusting a court order requires evidence and paperwork
You can’t just walk into the courtroom and request a change while claiming that things are different in your life. You need documentation of the substantial changes that you believe warrant a modification of the amount of support that you receive or pay.
Before you can even get into the court, you’ll have to submit paperwork and prepare to present your case, possibly with the other parent or your former spouse contesting your request. Getting help with this complicated legal process can make it easier for you to secure a change in support when you really need it.