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Can child support be modified if a parent develops a disability?

There are a variety of reasons for modifying a child custody agreement. One parent might need to relocate because of a job change. Alcoholism, drugs or violence may necessitate a modification.

A serious illness might require a change in the visitation schedule, which would lead to agreement modification. There might also be sufficient reason for a change to the agreement if one parent develops a disability, especially if it is the parent who provides child support.

About disability insurance

The custodial parent will have questions, and so will the court, especially if the disability occurs suddenly and is therefore an unexpected occurrence. The first question will undoubtedly be whether the disabled person is able to continue providing child support, even if the courts must reduce the amount. If there is disability insurance, it is likely that support payments will continue. However, since a formula based on parental income derives these payments, the disabled parent may be able to petition for child support modification for the duration of the disability.

Length of disability

The next logical question will be whether the disability is temporary or permanent. The judge may decrease the amount of child support for the anticipated duration of the disability. If the issue is temporary and recovery takes longer than expected, the disabled parent will have to go back to court to request continued modification. The court will consider both the amount of the insurance payments and any additional income the disabled parent may be receiving, as in the case of his or her being able to return to work in some capacity.

Avoiding garnishment

A family law attorney will tell you that the state of Maryland is very serious about maintaining timely child support because this is in the best interests of the child. If the disabled parent should fall behind on his or her payments, the court may garnish the parent's wages. It is therefore a very good idea to seek custody support modification before this kind of problem has a chance to develop.

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