North Dakotans who are considering a divorce often want to know if an order directing the payment of child support can be changed or modified. The answer is “sometimes,” depending upon individual circumstances. The family law system in North Dakota is predicated, in part, on the understanding that life changes can occur suddenly and drastically. An order for child support can seem reasonable when it was initially signed by the court, but a few years later, the same order might be rendered unreasonable by illness, job loss or other major life changes.
An order for child support is an order of the court and can only be changed by a judge. If a divorced couple can agree on reasonable changes to the order, a judge will usually sign an order reflecting the changes set forth in the agreement. If, however, the parents cannot reach such an agreement, a court hearing may be necessary.
Either parent may file a request for a review of the original order with the state’s child support agency. Each parent will be required to submit a financial affidavit and provide contact information. The agency then decides whether to seek amendment or modification of the original order. The agency will provide notice of its decision to both parents. Either parent may also obtain court review by asking the child support agency to review the order. The party seeking to revise the original order bears the burden of proving the effect of changed circumstances on the ability to satisfy the obligation.
Anyone who feels burdened by an unfair support order or is the subject of a request to amend may wish to seek advice from an experienced family lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in assembling evidence that will provide the basis for the requested change (or for opposing the change) and may also be able to assist in presenting the motion to the court.