I already have an existing child support order, but now the noncustodial parent is making much more money. Can my support order be modified to have the other parent pay me more support?
Yes. Whenever (1) there is a material change in financial circumstances of a parent who is ordered to pay support, (2) the change of financial circumstances was unforeseen at the time your support order was entered, (3) the change in circumstances has lasted at least three months, and is expected to last at least six additional months, and (4) the modification request is processed through the HHS Review & Modification office, your support order may qualify for modification. A “material change in financial circumstances” usually means an increase or decrease of support by at least 10% but not less than $25.00. If you (or the other parent) continue to live in Nebraska, and if your order is at least 3 years old, you may ask the State to process your request for a modification free of charge. Contact the HHS Review & Modification
office at (800) 831-4573 for more information, or see Creating or Changing a Court Order
. If your order is less than three years old, or if neither parent continues to reside in Nebraska, you would be responsible for pursuing your modification request on your own, with your own attorney. See the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines
for more information.
I am ordered to pay child support, but I no longer earn as much as I used to, and I have been unable to find similar employment that pays as much as my old job. Can I get my child support reduced on account of my earning less now?
Possibly. Child support can be modified either upward or downward if the circumstances justify it. Generally, child support may not be reduced unless the parent who is ordered to pay support suffers a long-term reduction in their earning capacity or income through no fault of their own. Examples of this would include corporate downsizing, the elimination of specialized work that cannot easily be replaced at the same pay level, or a medical disability or injury that occurs to the parent who pays support. Incarceration is, by itself, usually not considered to be valid grounds for a reduction in child support.
If you believe you qualify for a support reduction, and want to expedite the matter, you should contact a private attorney to assist you in your efforts. Otherwise, you (or the other parent) may contact the HHS Review & Modification
office at (800) 831-4573 for further assistance free of charge.
How long does it take to have a support order modified?
Every case is unique, but from the time contact with the HHS Review & Modification
office is initiated until the time that the court has a final hearing on a request to modify child support of child support, nine to 12 months may pass. Typically the first three to four months of the time is taken up in the HHS review process. If the case meets a preliminary finding that a modification is appropriate, the request will be transferred by HHS to the local child support office for further review, and the possible filing of a complaint to modify support. Depending upon any delays in obtaining court service of process on the other parent, delays caused by legal motions or court scheduling issues, the modification case should be ready for trial and decision about four to six months after it is filed.
Why can I not call your office directly to discuss my case?
Several years ago Nebraska, like all 50 states, went to a centralized customer call center. This center is staffed by highly trained personnel who are able to immediately answer or assist about 90% of all callers. Most calls are of a “routine” nature, such as checking to see if payments have been credited, wanting to confirm court hearing dates, providing a change of address, employer or phone number. Whenever necessary, the call center will electronically contact a local child support office with a customer concern that needs additional attention. Some of those calls do lead to phone contact between local staff and our customers. By answering 90% of caller questions, the call center frees up valuable time for the local child support workers to perform their duties on an uninterrupted basis, adding to their productivity. It is a “win-win” arrangement for everyone. Call the Child Support Call Center
at (877) 631-9973, or the HHS Review & Modification
office at (800) 831-4573.
My case is classified as “Interstate” in nature, because I live in a different state from the other parent. Does this mean that I will not be able to get the help I need?
No, definitely not. It is true that interstate cases often take longer to work successfully than cases where everyone still lives locally. About 15-20% of our caseload is interstate. In most of those cases our staff will need to work with other child support offices, sometimes in more than one other state, in order to secure the cooperation necessary to establish a new support order, or enforce an existing order. The extra “hoops” that must be jumped through mean that legal actions do take longer to complete. We have found that many other child support offices are overstretched in terms of personnel and funding, and thus are unable to assist us as quickly as they might like. In addition, sometimes when parents leave one state they move in order to evade their child support orders. Some people become very good at hiding from law enforcement. Fortunately, our tools for finding them continue to get better all the time as well.
What sanctions are used to force parents to pay their child support?
Most parents with child support orders pay regularly. Most do so on their own; others need a degree of prompting. Income withholding, civil contempt of court, license suspension, bank account seizure, passport denial, tax refund intercept, and even criminal actions are among the more readily used tools at our disposal to enforce terms of court orders. The simplest, quickest and least expensive enforcement techniques are used first, and often get the results we seek.
I owe child support, but I never get to see my child. Why should I have to pay support when I do not get the parenting time I deserve?
Nebraska law is clear: An obligation to pay child support is completely separate and distinct from the right to exercise parenting time. The failure to obtain court ordered parenting time (sometimes called visitation) does NOT justify the non payment of support. Also, the failure to receive child support does NOT justify a refusal to allow the other parent to exercise their court ordered parenting time. Just as our judges will not tolerate persons who willfully fail to pay their support on time, those same judges will not tolerate parents who refuse to allow the other parent court ordered parenting time with their children. The method of enforcing a problem with parenting time is to take the other parent back to court for allegedly being in contempt of the court order. A private attorney can provide needed expertise to accomplish this task.
What is the age of emancipation in Nebraska?
Emancipation age in Nebraska is presently 19, and child support must be paid until the month and year the child reaches that age. In most other states the age of emancipation is 18. Some states (not Nebraska) allow for support orders to continue beyond the age of the child’s emancipation if the child is still a full time high school student. Look to the language in your support order to see how long your child support is to continue.
Buffalo County Attorney’s Office
Child Support Enforcement