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How to Reduce Your Child Support Payments

If you've lost your job, your income has gone down, or other monthly costs have gone up, you may be able to decrease your child care payments.


  • TIP: You may want to consult a lawyer, who will file the petition for you.
  • Step 1: Attend the hearing in court, which will be set after you have met all the filing requirements. The parent receiving support payments must also appear. If you fail to appear, your application will likely not be considered and your payments will remain the same. If the judge does approve your request, the change will be effective right away and your payments will go down.
  • FACT: The Census Bureau reported that of the $34.1 billion total child support owed in 2007, only 62.7 percent was reported as received.
  • Step 2: Pay the filing fee, which may range from $10 to $50.
  • TIP: Have paycheck stubs, tax returns, and other financial documents handy.
  • Step 3: Present documents showing an increase in your health insurance costs, day care expenses, or other monthly child care related expenses that have gone up.
  • Step 4: Find the child support calculator for your state available online. Fill out the worksheet to see if the amount you should be paying is less than the amount you are currently paying.
  • Step 5: File a petition to reduce your payments in family court or the state child support office. Petitions are often available on your state's website or by contacting the office. With the application, you'll need to state your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
  • Step 6: Gather your W-2 forms, pay stubs, or other proof of income for the past two years and the current year, showing the amount your income has dropped. Your income usually must have gone down at least twenty percent to become eligible for a reduction in child care payments.

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