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Prepare to change your life to afford child support

When you have a child with a former partner, you may be told that you need to pay support, especially if you don't care for your child as often as the other party. As a result, you'll need to make monthly payments to the other parent for the care of your child.

One problem that some people have with child support is that it is sometimes hard to afford it and to continue to live the same lifestyle. For example, you may be ordered to pay $200 a month in support or could be told you have to pay $500. In either case, that extra money going to support could mean you have to change the way you live.

Won't the court consider the current living conditions before determining child support?

To a degree, yes, because the court needs to know that you're able to support yourself. However, child support is normally calculated based on income. You may have to change the way you live to be able to afford paying support, but that is a reality that you just have to face.

While you can ask for a modification of support, it may be that you'll have to cut back in other ways, like eating out less, reducing how much you travel or cutting back on phone or cable bills. You have to make your life fit the support payments, not the other way around.

Many people argue that they can't afford to live and pay support, and if that is your argument, you should make sure you have proof. For instance, you'll have to show grocery bills, utility costs, the cost for rent or your mortgage and other expenses. If the judge feels that you are being treated unfairly due to the amount you're being ordered to pay, then they may allow you to reduce payments.

What should you do if you can't pay?

If you can't afford the full payment, make sure you pay something. Not paying support violates the court order, which can get you into deep trouble with the law. Always make payments until you receive a modification for your circumstances. Failing to do so could result in fines, penalties, jail time or other significant trouble.

Your attorney can help you prepare documents if you'd like to ask to modify your payments, so they're more affordable and can be paid on time each month.

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