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How can you negotiate reduced child support?

Are you suffering from an economic downturn?

Whether you're laid off or injured, your child support payments go on -- even if you can't afford to pay them. Here are some strategic steps you can take to win a modification:

Give your ex plenty of warning

Nobody likes an unpleasant surprise -- particularly where money is concerned. If you had no idea you were going to be in this position, you obviously can't warn anyone else. However, if you know layoffs are coming or you're scheduled for surgery, let your ex know in advance that your income is likely to be affected.

Put the notification in writing

If you have to go to court about it, you'll be able to prove that you were clear about the issues in advance.

Put the evidence together

You may hate the idea of disclosing anything to your ex, but you either have to do it privately or in court.

Show your ex the termination papers or the doctor's letter that puts you off work. If your hours are simply reduced or you're on workers' compensation for a while, put together the papers from human resources or get a letter from your boss to prove it. That substantiates your loss of income.

Be honest

Don't hide the money you do have coming in. If you got a severance package, let your spouse know it. If you're getting money from a relative to help you meet the rent -- disclose it. That will go a long way toward keeping your spouse (and the court) from suspecting that you're hiding some income on the sly.

Reduce your expenses

You probably need to cut your expenses anyhow, but be prepared to sacrifice until it hurts if you can't make your child support payments. If your ex won't agree to a reduced support payment, you can bet the court will want you to show that you're already making personal sacrifices in your budget.

Act quickly

Until there's a new agreement in place, you still owe that support. Pay what you can and negotiate with your ex immediately. As soon as you have an agreement (or give up trying to make one), file your request for a modification in your support obligation with the court.

The courts are generally reasonable when economic problems happen -- as long as you do what's expected.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support Modification Tips," accessed May 23, 2018

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