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Child support modification can be tricky

Newton football fans are probably familiar with the name Warren Sapp. As a former NFL defensive lineman, money was rarely an issue for Sapp. Recently, due to financial difficulties, however, he was forced to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Now Sapp is seeking to further reduce his financial obligations by reducing the amount of child support he pays each month.

Sapp has reportedly requested a child support reduction from a Florida court. He currently pays a fixed amount of $2,500 per month to the mother of one of his six children. He agreed to that amount when he was playing pro football. The agreement stated that regardless of changes in his income, the child support amount would not change. At the time, he was probably worried about the payment increasing if he were to make more money. Now that he is no longer making the amount of money he used to, the once protective agreement is now problematic.

The judge in the case has not yet made a decision. Sapp is also looking to reduce the amounts of his other child support obligations.

As this story illustrates, previously agreed upon child support arrangements do not always work out. Job loss, serious injury or change in marital status are common examples of life events that may require a child support modification. To change the amount of child support, a parent must either get the other parent to agree, or have a judge order the change. There are a few tips that can assist a person in the child support modification process.

First, act quickly. If a person can no longer make the child support payments, any amount not paid will still be owed in the future. These amounts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and generally, the court will only reduce future payments, not those that are in arrears. Therefore, as soon as a parent's financial situation changes, it is important to begin the process of child support modification.

The parent should document any change in circumstances. For example, if a parent loses a job which makes it difficult to pay child support, the court will require the parent to demonstrate the significant change in circumstances.

Source: NewsOne, "Warren Sapp Asks to Reduce Child Support Payment," Ruth Manuel-Logan, Nov. 28, 2012

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