When the court finalizes a child support amount in the divorce decree, it is not set in stone. Life is full of unexpected changes and some changes may be grounds for child support modification. The Delaware Courts determine child support amounts using the Melson Formula. This method of child support calculation takes into account the needs of each parent, child care expenses, medical expenses, standard of living as well as other financial needs of the children.
Once the court sets the child support amount, parents must wait for at least two and a half years before they are able to file for custody modification. Yet, circumstances may arise allowing parents to file for modification earlier. These may include the following:
- A parent experiences a substantial decrease or increase of income
- A parent loses his or her job
- A parent goes to jail
- A parent moves out of state or a significant distance away
A change in the parenting schedule or custody arrangement may also result in a child support modification. If the non-custodial parent increases or decreases the amount of time they spend with the children, the judge may decide to change the support amount.
Child support modification cases first go through the mediation process, where there is an attempt to make a mutual agreement on the situation. Next, the case travels to the Family Court Commissioner if modification failed to bring about results. Before the judge makes any changes, he or she will determine whether the change in finances is either 10% greater or 10% lower than the original amount.