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Why do child support orders change?

Child support orders are binding, meaning that people have to make the full payments, on time, or risk legal penalties. This is true even when they have other bills to pay and may want to use the money for something else -- even something as necessary as paying the mortgage on time.

However, this doesn't mean that the orders can't be changed. While parents are cautioned to never pay less until the change is officially made, they can ask for an alteration in many situations. Some common examples include:

-- One of the parents loses his or her job. -- One of the parents is sent to jail. -- Income levels shifts -- because of a reduction in hours, for example -- for either of the parents. -- More children are born in new relationships. -- The needs of the child have changed. For example, a child who is diagnosed with a disease may need extensive medical care and more money to pay for it. -- The amount of time the child spends with one or both parents has changed significantly.

Again, it's important for parents to know that there is a set procedure that has to be used to make the change. Don't just assume that you no longer have to pay because you lost your job, for instance. You do still have to pay until you go through the court system and get the order altered to match your new situation.

As such, it's very important to know how this process works, what proof you'll need to show the court and how to officially alter the court order.