Child support modifications: Litigation or mediation?

Unlike other areas of family law, child support orders tend to be fairly straightforward. Most of the time, child support order amounts are calculated according to strict guidelines. However, these amounts frequently need to be modified over time. When a substantial change in circumstance affects the life of either the parent who pays child support or the parent who receives it, either party may seek modifications of child support.

When seeking either a temporary or permanent adjustment in child support, a parent may choose to pursue litigation or may choose to mediate this request. If both parents are fairly open to the need for modification and do not anticipate that the issue will be particularly contentious, mediation may be an excellent choice for resolving this issue.

Mediation is often less costly than litigation, less emotionally draining and less tense than litigation. However, even though there are significant benefits to be gained from mediation, it is not the best choice for every situation.

Litigation is often preferred in situations where the request for modification is going to be seriously contested by the other party. In addition, litigation may make the most sense if the child support payer has been inconsistent or negligent in making past payments or if any history of abuse exists between the parents affected by the potential modification.

Child support modifications can substantially affect the income of both the parent who pays and the parent who receives. As a result, it is critical that when parents need to modify child support or are faced with a request for modification that each seeks experienced counsel who can guide them through the process in fair and focused ways.

Source: Huffington Post, "Which Would You Choose -- Mediation or Litigation - When Seeking Child Support Modification?" Diane L. Danois, July 30, 2013