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Modifying Child Support

An order for child support may be increased or decreased (usually called a modification) in several ways. Any person paying or receiving child support by order of a court may file an application to modify the child support due to a material change in circumstances that has occurred since the support was ordered or last modified. Many litigants hire an attorney to file the necessary papers and provide them with the legal expertise necessary to present the case to the court for its decision.

The Department of Health and Human Services in Lincoln, Nebraska, must, by law, review all IV-D child support orders at least once every three years to make an assessment of whether they could be increased or decreased according to the most recent child support guidelines. Your case is a IV-D case if the government has been a party to it in the past. Or, your case can become IV-D if you assign your right to receive support by the receipt of public assistance benefits, usually ADC payments. Finally, you case can become a IV-D case if you request IV-D services. Anyone, regardless of income, can apply for IV-D services. In Lancaster County, this means that you make an appointment with the Lancaster County Attorney's Child Support Division and fill out an application for the services. You might request that the County Attorney's Office review your order for a possible increase or decrease in the support ordered, or for some other reason.

If your case is selected for review, either because you or the other parent requested the review, or because the Department of Health and Human Services has initiated the process, you will be required to complete paperwork regarding your current financial status and submit it to the Department. After the Department completes its review, it will send a notice to each parent of it's determination to refer or not to refer the order to the county attorney for filing of an application for modification of the order in the court. Each parent is allowed thirty days to submit to the Department a written request for a review of the Department's determination.

Referral of an order to a county attorney creates, by law, a rebuttable presumption that there has been a material change in the financial circumstances of one of the parents such that the child support obligation shall be increased at least ten percent if there is inadequate financial information regarding the noncustodial parent or that the child support obligation shall be decreased at least ten percent if there is inadequate financial information regarding the custodial parent. The court, after a hearing, may order a decrease or an increase of at least ten percent in the child support obligation.

There is a toll-free number to call to make application for review of your child support order by the Department of Health and Human Services. That number is 1-800-831-4573. Do not contact the District Court Referee about a review of your child support. The Referee's office cannot answer any such questions. The process does not involve the courts, until and unless an application to modify is actually filed. Much more detailed information can be provided to you by the Department of Health and Human Services' child support division, or the child support division of the Lancaster County Attorney's Office.

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