Child Support Modification in Alabama
In Alabama, a child support order can be modified pursuant to the same law that provides for an initial child support determination. The rule requires as follows:
A party seeking a modification of child support must plead and prove that there has occurred a material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing since the last order of child support.
According to the law, there is a rebuttable presumption that child support should be modified any time there is more than a ten percent (10%) difference in the existing award and the amount established by the guidelines. The exception is when there has been no change in circumstances that causes the difference.
Understanding the 10% variation rule
Trial courts have the authority to use their discretion in modifying a child support award even in cases where the 10% variation does not exist; a common example is when there is a “material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing.” On the other hand, the court also has the discretion to deny a modification even when there is a (10%) variation if there is a finding that the application of the guidelines would be manifestly unjust or inequitable.
Modification works both ways
Both sides of a child support award have the ability to request a modification. That means either the parent paying child support or the custodial parent receiving child support can petition the court for modification. Historically speaking, there are certain events that have been determined not to warrant a change in a child support award, including remarriage or divorce from a different spouse and mere speculation that a parent is earning or not earning overtime. Likewise, evidence that a non-custodial parent has filed bankruptcy, or suffered a reduction income due to circumstances beyond that parent’s control, are often seen as sufficient to consider modification.
If you have questions regarding child custody or any other family law matter, contact us online or by calling Brad J. Latta at (205) 823-1223 for a consultation.