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Responding to a Motion Regarding Child Support


    Who Can File a Motion Regarding Support?

    Either parent can file a Motion Regarding Support in an existing family law case. It could be a divorce, separate maintenance, custody, paternity or family support case.

    The parent who files the motion is the “moving party.” The moving party can be the plaintiff or defendant in the family law case. The moving party can be the person who pays child support or the person who gets it.

    The moving party can file a Motion Regarding Support to ask the court to start child support if there is a family law case but no child support order.

    The moving party can file a Motion Regarding Support to ask the court to change the amount of child support if there is a family law case with a child support order.

    When Can a Parent File a Motion Regarding Support?

    The court can enter a court order to start or change child support any time until a child turns 18 or, in some cases, until the child turns 19 ½. But to ask for a change in the amount of child support, the moving party must show the court there has been a change in circumstances that supports the change. Examples of a change in circumstances are:

    • An change in either parent’s income because of job change or disability

    • An increase in the child’s needs

    • A change in custody arrangements

    • An increase in child care expenses

    • A child has turned 18 and is no longer in high school

    The court will only change support if it decides there has been a change in circumstances. If you get a Motion Regarding Support and don’t believe there has been a change in circumstances, say that in your response.

    What Can I do If I Get a Motion Regarding Support?

    Read the papers carefully

    If you were served with a Motion Regarding Support, read it right away. It is important to understand what the moving party is asking the court to do. It is also important to know the date, time and place the court hearing is scheduled.

    Pay attention to deadlines

    Court cases have strict deadlines. If you decide to file a response to the Motion Regarding Support, you must file it with the court at least 3 days before the hearing. You must have it served on the other party at least 5 days before the court hearing.

    Decide how you want to respond

    If the other party files a Motion Regarding Support you can do nothing. If you do nothing, the court may change the court order without any input from you.

    This may be fine if you agree with the other parent’s proposed change. Consider filing a response if you want input in the child support amounts. You still may be able to participate in the court hearing if you don’t file a written response.

    How to file a Response to Motion Regarding Child Support

    You can use our Do-It-Yourself Response to Motion to Change Child Support to create your response.

    Once you have your response, date and sign it. Make several copies and take it to the court clerk’s office. Arrange to have a copy served on the moving party.

    For more detailed instructions read the checklist in the “I Need to File a Response to Motion Regarding Support” toolkit.

    What Happens Next?

    Depending on your county you may meet with the Friend of the Court or have a hearing in front of a judge or referee. At the meeting or hearing you and the other party will each have a chance to say why you think support should be changed or left the same. Bring financial information to support what you are asking for, such as your most recent:

    • Pay stubs, W-2s, income tax returns

    • Social Security statements (if you get disability)

    • Bank statements

    • Child care expenses

    If you met with a Friend of the Court employee, he or she will likely make a recommendation to the court about whether to order child support and what the amounts should be.

    If you have a hearing, the judge or referee may decide whether to start or change child support at or after the hearing. Or, the judge or referee may refer your motion to the Friend of the Court for an investigation and recommendation.


    If you are behind on child support payments

    If you’re behind on your payments, you may want to talk to a lawyer before the court hearing. The judge may review your case and penalize you if you are behind in your payments.

    If you need a lawyer and are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. You can use the "Find a Lawyer" section on this page to look for legal help in your area.

    More about Child Support

    To learn more about child support and the role of the Friend of the Court, read the articles Child Support in a Nutshell, Getting or Changing a Child Support Order and Friend of the Court Overview.