When a court first sets child support during divorce proceedings, they take a number of factors into account. That might include each parent’s income, the emotional and physical needs of the child and their standard of living.

As the months and years go by, however, things can change. Sometimes dramatically. In those cases one parent might need to request a modification to the child support agreement. While making a change is possible, it requires some considerations.

A ‘substantial change in circumstances’

At any point, either spouse – either custodial or non-custodial – can submit a request for a child support modification to Rhode Island Family Court. In order to do so however, the person asking for this change has to demonstrate there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”

What that means is a bit open to interpretation, but the Department of Health and Human Services offers a few examples, including:

  • One parent losing their job
  • The non-custodial parent’s income increasing
  • The filer’s income decreasing
  • The birth of another child
  • The child’s needs increasing
  • The incarceration of a parent
  • One parent becoming disabled

Custodial parents submit what’s known as a request for modification, while non-custodial parents file what’s called a motion for relief.

What happens after filing a request

After filing a request, Rhode Island Family Court will schedule a hearing date. At this hearing, someone will have to present your case to the judge or magistrate. That can be either yourself or, in most cases, an attorney you’ve hired. You will also need to bring a form detailing your expenses to the court date.

From there, the judge will use your testimony as well as your income information to make a determination.

Both parents want to do what’s best for the child. Sometimes that means altering a previous agreement to account for life changes. An attorney may be able to help you during this process, shouldering some of the legal load and allowing you to focus on your family.