An Overview of Child Support Modifications

There may come a point, years after you and your ex-spouse finalized your divorce, that a life change may warrant a second look at the terms of the original divorce agreement. One of the aspects of the agreement that may need to be altered is the order of child support payments. Often, a job or career change gives rise to the need to petition for what’s called a “modification” of child support. 

Requirements Before Petitioning

If you are considering filing this petition, understand that at least three years must have passed since the original order was entered into for the court to consider a modification. However, there is an exception in the case of a “significant change of circumstances” or if the original order did not address medical care. If there has not been a significant change, then modifying the order could be an uphill battle. 

If the income of the non-custodial parent has recently changed by more than 10 percent, then you have a good chance at obtaining your modification. Also, if you contact your ex and you both agree to the modification, then you will not need to appear in court; the judge will only need to sign off on the modification. 

Filing the Petition and Preparing Your Case

To initiate your case, you will need to file the petition for modification in either the county that your child lives in or the jurisdiction that handled your original child support order. Filing will require you fill out certain forms and pay a court fee. To bolster your case, you should gather all income statements, including W-2 forms, recent pay stubs, disability statements, and any other relevant documents. 

After you have filed your modification petition in the appropriate circuit court, your ex must be served with the petition within a certain time period (this varies based upon the method of delivery). Once a court hearing has been set, you should prepare your argument with a qualified family law attorney; this includes calling witnesses who can testify on your behalf. 

Once the hearing has concluded, the judge will often determine whether or not a modification is warranted on the same day. Occasionally, he or she will require some time to come up with a decision. No more than forty-five days is usually required. 


No matter how solid you think your case is for modifying your child support order, your spouse may disagree and kick the matter to family court. In any situation, you should retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable Alabama family law attorney to be an advocate for you. Call the office of Attorney John M. Totten today at 256-233-2025 to get started on your case.

John M. Totten